Davina Kotulski

14 Years Together, Married, and Still Filing 'Single'

Filed By Davina Kotulski | April 29, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, community property, DOMA, LGBT, same-sex couple, tax

This year Molly and I filed our taxes again as "married" in California and "single" on our federal documents. tax.jpgWe are grateful that we are legally married and can file "married" in the state of California, but it is totally egregious that we must check "single" on our federal tax returns when we are not.

Our CPA was totally annoyed, luckily not at us, but with the IRS, because this year the IRS passed a new ruling that said that they will recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and domestic partnerships in community property states for the purposes of federal income. The IRS is trying to deny us our wedding cake and eat it too!

Translating the insanity

The IRS wants to deny is full equality, but wants to tax us as if we have it already. So, in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and California, states with community property laws, same-sex couples who are in registered domestic partnerships or who were legally married before Prop 8 passed are required to join their income with their partner/and/or federally unrecognized spouse for all other purposes, divide by two and report that as their federal income.

Partner A's income + Partner's B income / 2 = amount to declare as your income.

So let's say Jonathon makes $75,000 this year and Randy makes $51,000. Jonathon will report that he made $63,000 and Randy will report that he made $63,000 potentially putting each of them in different tax brackets without any other of the benefits or recognition marriage. In other words, they can't file joint tax returns as a married couple with the IRS.

Gays Broke Turbo Tax

Apparently this is so confusing that Turbo Tax wasn't even able to find a solution or help same-sex couples complete the IRS's calculation requirements costing same-sex couples in community property states additional time and money to comply with the IRS's filing requirements.

One hundred seventy-nine of the 1,138 federal marriage rights that same-sex couples are denied because of DOMA have to do with taxation. Two hundred seventy-five of those 1,138 rights have to do with employment benefits in civilian and military employment. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is still in effect and DOMA is still kicking our butts during the tax season.

I wrote in my book, Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why it Will Prevail:

In October 2009, the New York Times published an article entitled "The High Price of Being A Gay Couple." According to authors, Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber, an average same-sex couple's "lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562," which they attributed to disparate realities between heterosexual and same-sex couples with regard to social security benefits, health insurance, tax preparation and taxation, ability to claim head of household, estate planning, and many more financial factors. Bernard and Lieber also found that in the best case scenario, "health coverage costs the gay couple $28,595 more" than their married heterosexual counterparts. Attorney and author Frederick Hertz contrasts the experience of heterosexual married couples and same-sex couples suggesting that being a married heterosexual is like being able to always ride in the carpool lane while being in a same-sex relationship means you always have to "Stop. Wait. Pay a toll." Excerpt from.

Because we are denied marriage equality, LGBT people are denied paid and unpaid leave to care for our spouse/partner or our spouse's or partner's family member because our mother in-law and brother in-law is not considered "our family." We are denied paid and unpaid leave to make burial arrangements for or attend funerals of our spouse or partner, or our spouse's or partner's family member because our mother in-law and brother in-law is not considered our family. We don't have access to family health insurance, pensions, spousal social security, etc. etc.

Do you know where your tax dollars are going?

This is unfair and unequal taxation and treatment. In my book I go into greater depth about taxation of same-sex couples and I talk about the research about how much money the federal government would actually save by granting LGBT people full access to marriage equality.

Now, we are wasting our money, tax payer money, to defend the outdated DOMA law. Our Speaker of the House has us taxpayers paying $520 an hour to lawyers to keep a bill in place that denies same-sex couples 1,138 federal marriage rights. President Clinton who signed DOMA into law deeply regrets having done so. Bob Barr who created the bill says let's toss it out. The Obama Administration wants to get rid of it.

The time has come to stop the insanity! California Senator Diane Feinstein has introduced a new bill to repeal the unfair DOMA. Contact your Congressional Leaders and Senators and ask them to help repeal DOMA!

With liberty and justice for all!


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karen in kalifonria | April 29, 2011 3:28 PM

Devil is in the detail.
The IRS DOES NOT recognize your marriage, it is recognizing state community property laws. Its an important distinction.

That you for all the other details in your post.

Robin Tyler | April 29, 2011 9:34 PM

Oh yes,let's defend the IRS. I don't care what they are recognizing. The Federal Government
does not recognize our marriage, but the IRS recognizes community property laws?
And we, in turn, recognize Federal discrimination against marriage equality. Thatis the important distinction.
If they did this to any other group, tens of thousands would be on the streets.
But we sit back and take it, hoping that if people just 'get to know us better' and 'like us'
DOMA will just 'go away.'

I thought the IRS's move to recognize community property for same-sex couples was considered positive by gay orgs since it resulted in a tax break for some couples? Without giving numbers, did it increase or decrease your income tax?

customartist | May 1, 2011 2:06 PM

So, the State recognizes Gay Couples, THEN the Fed recognizes Gay Couples' State Status.

So why then cannot All Other Departments within the Federal Government acknowledge these statuses, meaning the ones that Give Out Benefits, not just the ones that Take Gay Money?