Because of this summer’s Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the Defence of Marriage Act, same-sex married couples in all 50 states are now supposed to file federal income taxes as married.
Since most U.S. states do not recognise same-sex marriage, that will often mean filing as married for federal tax purposes and single for state tax purposes. And in some cases, that’s going to be complicated.
According to a roundup by Bloomberg BNA, most states that prohibit gay marriage have not yet released specific tax guidance for same-sex couples, and the three that have are sending different signals.
Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue has helpfully released a special form for same-sex married couples: Schedule S, which you use to separate your joint federal income into single buckets for state income tax purposes. You can think of the “S” as standing for “second-class citizen.”
In Louisiana, there’s just a letter from the department of revenue directing same-sex married people to “provide the same federal income tax information on the Louisiana State Return that would have been provided” if they had filed as single for federal tax purposes.
There’s an interesting wrinkle here: Louisiana is one of a few states that allows you to deduct federal income tax from your state taxable income. Louisiana’s guidance, taken literally, would seem to suggest that same-sex couples should deduct the amount of federal income tax they would have owed if they filed singly for federal purposes — even though that amount will often exceed their actual federal tax paid.
A spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Revenue did not immediately respond for a request for clarification, but it looks like same-sex couples in the state who can’t file state income tax together will at least get the consolation prize of an extra tax deduction.
The Colorado Department of Revenue released guidance on Sept. 12 saying the state “continues to maintain the position that both federal and Colorado income tax returns must have the same filing status.” That is, even though the state doesn’t recognise same-sex marriage, same-sex couples filing as married for federal purposes should also file as married in Colorado.
But that though that guidance lives on in the Google cache, the department withdrew it “within a couple of hours,” according to Department of Revenue spokeswoman Ro Silva. She said the department does not yet know what same-sex married couples in Colorado should do, and is awaiting further guidance from the office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (R). A spokeswoman for Suthers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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