Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Filing income taxes at the state and federal levels gets tricky for a couple that isn't legally allowed to marry everywhere, and whose legitimate marriage in one state isn't grounds for recognition from the national government. Though President Obama recently ordered the Justice Department not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law stands, and will remain standing until it's successfully challenged in court. That means that for the time being, a homosexual couple wed in Vermont still can't file their federal income taxes as a married couple, even though they're allowed to file their state taxes that way.
Last week, we looked at the bureaucratic intricacies faced by same sex couples every April. Tina Salandra, a CPA with experience filing tax returns for LGBT families, was on The Brian Lehrer Show answering callers' questions. We extended that offer to our It's a Free Country readers as well, allowing them to drop their questions about same sex filing in the comments section of the article. Salandra was kind enough to give some answers again this week.
→ What about IRS form 555? — Whitney Weddell from Bakersfield
If they mean community property law, that's not applicable in the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. What i can say is, in community property states, only California has declared same sex couples are treated as legally married couples. Then they can't shuffle their deductions, everything's 50-50. Only California has declared that for same sex couples as a community property state, if that's what they mean.
→ My partner gets health insurance through my work and my company adds imputed income for the value of the insurance. I claim her as a dependent, however, so I should not be taxed on that income. How do I deduct this from my gross income on my tax form? — Ana from Brooklyn
You don't really. What you have to do is go to that person's payroll department or human resources department and tell them they're not to put that imputed income on their W2, because their partner is a dependent and dependent health care is not taxable. It's the case in every state, regardless of the legal status of gay marriage. That's a federal law.
For more information, click on the link to our explainer below.