Saying 'I Do' Is Easy -- Figuring Out Same-Sex Taxes Is Complicated

Since New York's legislature voted to make gay marriage legal, accountants say they've been inundated with calls from same sex couples asking for for advice. While there are benefits to tying the knot, those considering it should also consider the drawbacks.

The first tax to hit most newlyweds will be state and local income taxes.  

Low-earning couples could see their tax bills go down, but higher-earning couples will likely pay more. Accountant Tina Salandra estimated that two married people, each making a $100,000 a year, could pay $800 more in state taxes.

But if they have kids, they'll also be eligible for a variety of tax credits.

Since the federal government doesn't recognize gay marriages, same-sex couples will have to file separate federal returns, which will cost them more in fees if they're using an accountant.

But the biggest change, many planners say, is to estate taxes. Absent marriage, if one member of a couple inherits property valued at more than $1 million from their partner, they pay New York estate taxes. But if the couple is married, there is no state inheritance tax.

Salandra said the change could mean gay individuals who lose a husband or wife will be more likely to be able to stay in their home.

"Here you have New York City, where it could easily be one apartment that is valued at $1 million," Salandra said.