Married Same-Sex Couples May Need to File Multiple Tax Returns

Posted on December 30, 2022

Married Same-Sex Couples May Need to File Multiple Tax Returns

There is much confusion surrounding how same-sex couples will pay their taxes this year. To add to that, the Department of Revenue has given a directive that each same-sex spouse will need to prepare a “pro forma” federal tax return to determine state liability. That means preparing and filing more than one tax return.

Charlotte Observer shares the story of Ken Wittenauer and Russ Leciejewski, the same-sex couple that will need to file five separate tax returns in 2014 – one federal tax return, two state tax returns and two “pro forma” or dummy federal tax returns. “They’ll be among thousands of same-sex couples in North Carolina who will have to prepare multiple tax returns: one for the IRS that now recognizes their marriage and separate “dummy” returns for the state that does not.

“It’s just disappointing that the state that I live in won’t recognize my marriage for purposes of taxation the way the federal government does,” said Wittenauer, a 58-year-old attorney.

“Since June’s high court decision, the Internal Revenue Service recognizes lawful marriages of same-sex couples. For the first time, those couples must generally file as married on their federal return.

“However, according to the Human Rights Campaign, North Carolina is one of 20 states that not only don’t allow same-sex marriage but also use federal returns as a basis for state returns.

“Now, under an October directive from the Department of Revenue, each spouse will have to prepare a “pro forma,” or dummy, federal return to determine their state tax liability.”

Tax complications will remain as long as there are states that do not recognize same-sex. It will mean more paperwork and for many it will mean having to hire professional help for tax preparation. There were around 132,000 American households with same-sex married couples, and 515,000 with unmarried same-sex partners in 2010.

Charlotte Observer goes on to share the story of Laura Maschal. “Laura Maschal, who lives in Charlotte with her wife, Lacey Williams, has always done their taxes. But this year she expects to prepare four separate federal returns.

“She’ll do one as married filing jointly and one as married filing separately to see which is more advantageous. Then she’ll do two separate dummy federal returns for the state.

“’I really did think this is the year I might break down and pay somebody,’ says Maschal, 35, an IT project manager who married in Vermont last year. ‘I expect I’ll be spending about twice the time that I normally do.’”

With tax season a month away, same-sex married couples need to be fully aware of their often complicated tax obligations. As more and more states recognise same-sex marriage, it will become simpler for same-sex couples to prepare and file their tax returns.