Filing Taxes for Same-Sex Married Couples in California

Each year on April 15, filing taxes is a burden that every American must face. However, tax day can be an accounting nightmare for gay and lesbian couples who live in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage.

If a gay couple lives in one of the 13 states that does not recognize same-sex marriage, tax time gets complicated since state tax returns generally use information from the person's federal tax return.

In states such as Ohio, which doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, a couple who married in a state such as California that recognizes same-sex marriage, would have to file their state tax returns as if they were single.

On April 28, the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on the same-sex marriage debate.

Same-Sex Couples and Taxes in California

Since California recognizes same-sex marriage, California residents avoid the challenges faced by gay couples in the 13 states that don't recognized same-sex marriage.

As of 2008, same-sex married couples had to file their California state income tax returns either married filing jointly, or married filing separately. As far as federal purposes: they must file their federal return using single or head of household filing status.

On June 26, 2013, in the United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, claiming they were invalid.

The U.S. Department of Treasury and the IRS then ruled that for federal tax purposes, same sex couples legally married in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage would be treated as "married."

To date, 37 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.

After the Supreme Court's ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, the IRS announced that it would begin recognizing same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes, including those living in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage.

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