Love and Taxes

1040_formMy spouse and I just sent in our first federal tax form as a married couple. It might be the happiest I’ve ever been turning in a tax form.

We’ve been together for 21 years and legally married for 13, ever since we moved to Massachusetts. Until this year, however (after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act), we still each had to fill out a federal form as “Single,” then do a dummy federal form as “Married,” which we used to complete our state (Married) form. Not to mention the debates over which of us got to claim our son as a tax dependent — which was always a purely financial decision, but always seemed somehow unfair toward the one of us who didn’t get to “claim’ him.

This year, however, same-sex couples who were legally wed but live in states that don’t recognize their marriages have to do a similar dance with a “Married” federal form and dummy federal “Single” forms that they use to complete their “Single” state forms. Got all that?

It actually gets worse, as The Atlantic describes in “This Tax Season: Total Chaos for Same-Sex Couples.” Even if a same-sex couple is married and lives in a marriage-recognition state, if one spouse has income from a non-recognition state, they may still have to file separately for the latter state. And companies are scrambling to figure out how to deal with employee benefits that are no longer taxable under federal law for same-sex couples.

Need some additional help under the new regulations? Try these resources for a start: