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New tax law only one small step for same-sex couples

Gay and lesbian couples around the nation, as in Michigan, continue to face uphill battles for equal rights. A handful of states allow and recognize same-sex marriages and even have rules for same-sex divorces but most still ban people in non-traditional unions from being married and enjoying the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.

A new ruling by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service offers a slight advance for gay or lesbian couples who have been married in any state, regardless of their current state of residence and its laws surrounding the issue. Effective for the 2013 tax year, same-sex couples can file their federal tax returns as “married filing joint”. Even though Michigan does not permit same-sex marriage, the federal law will still apply. It is uncertain as to how, if at all, the ruling may affect the filing of Michigan state taxes. Additionally, due to the standard statute of limitations, same-sex couples will be allowed to file claims for refunds for the prior three tax years—2012, 2011 and 2010.

The Eastern District of Michigan Court is expecting a case coming its way to overturn the existing Michigan Marriage Amendment as well as Michigan’s adoption code. The former bans same-sex marriages in the state while the latter prevents any rights being granted to the children of any gay or lesbian couples.

Taxes, cohabitation agreements, gay and lesbian adoption and more are just some of the unique situations that same-sex couples may need help with, especially in states that still do not allow for them to be legally married. Such couples in Michigan may wish to obtain legal input on how the new IRS ruling may affect them.

Source: Heritage Newspapers Press & Guide, “IRS: Same-sex couples can file joint federal returns,” Carol Hopkins, August 31, 2013

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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