Georgia Equality’s Why Marriage Matters Georgia Campaign today delivered more than 1,000 signatures to the Georgia Department of Revenue demanding same-sex legally married couples be treated equally when it comes to filing taxes.
April 15 was tax day across the country.
From a Georgia Equality email to supporters:
“We just wanted to send you a quick email to say THANK YOU! 1,341 of you signed the Tax Day petition to the Georgia Department of Revenue in opposition to their discriminatory policies requiring legally married same-sex couples in Georgia to lie on their tax returns. As part of our Why Marriage Matters Georgia Campaign, our initial goal was to present 1,000 signatures and because of you we exceeded that goal. In the coming weeks and months Georgia Equality will continue this grassroots public education campaign to build support for and ultimately win the freedom to marry in Georgia. ”
In October, the Georgia Department of Revenue issued guidelines for same-sex couples filing state tax returns in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a major portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The state Department of Revenue’s guidelines stated:
• Georgia income tax law does not directly provide that the same filing status be used for Georgia purposes as is used for Federal purposes, but it does provide that Federal Adjusted Gross Income be used as the starting point in computing Georgia taxable income.
• The Department has traditionally required taxpayers to use the same filing status for both Georgia and Federal income tax purposes since Federal Adjusted Gross Income is computed based on a person’s Federal filing status. However, the Georgia Constitution, which limits marriage to relationships between a man and a woman, supersedes Georgia income tax law.
• Therefore, persons in a same sex marriage who can now file a Federal return using married filing jointly or married filing separately status must continue to file Georgia returns using the single filing status or, if qualified, head of household filing status.
And that’s where the lie comes in — forcing married couples to file as single people on their Georgia returns.
For same-sex couples who are legally married in other states, the federal government does recognize their tax filing status together. However, in Georgia, where same-sex marriage is constitutionally prohibited, gay couples have had to navigate through a confusing tax season with numerous forms and requirements.
Same-sex couples who marry legally in another state, but reside in a state like Georgia where same-sex-marriage is illegal, face an unprecedented set of circumstances.
If a married same-sex couple (“married” being defined as having been married in one of the states where same-sex-marriage is legal), file their taxes jointly, they need to know that they are each taking on everything in that return equally and solely.
If you’re legally married, your marriage is recognized on a federal level — but not in the state of Georgia’s eyes, thanks to the 2004 same-sex-marriage ban.
So if you decide to file jointly, you must each prepare (but not file) federal returns as single to get your adjusted gross income for your state returns. Then you can merge those two federal single returns into one federal married filing jointly return.
“So in essence,” Lynn Pasqualetti, managing partner of HLM Financial Group, recently said, “you’re doing five tax returns.”