IRS Publishes Q&A Guidance for Same-sex Couples
September 21, 2011 by Robin Maril, Senior Legislative Counsel
Last week the IRS published Question and Answer guidance for same-sex couples and registered domestic partners residing in states with community property laws. The Q&A provides taxpayers with plain language information on current IRS policies regarding same sex couples and registered domestic partners, such as how a registered domestic partner can claim head of household filing status on a tax return and to claim a registered domestic partner as a dependent for purposes of the dependency deduction and the exclusion for medical expense reimbursement. The guidance also discusses adoption tax credits for registered domestic partners. For more information on the community property Q&A please visit http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=245869,00.html.
Each year same-sex couples and families must decipher ambiguous tax provisions when filing their tax returns. Many same-sex couples and families are denied benefits to which they are legally entitled because of this ambiguity and inconsistency in enforcement on the part of the IRS. Many newly-adoptive same-sex parents across the country receive contradictory and erroneous information from the IRS when applying for the adoption tax credit after a second parent adoption.
HRC applauds this effort to ensure that LGBT taxpayers are equipped with the information they need in order to file accurate tax returns and urges the IRS to release more information about the range of tax issues facing our community, including those same-sex couples who do not live in a community property state or one that provides formal legal recognition for their relationships. We also urge the IRS to use its available discretionary authority to take steps to ensure that these families are treated equally under the tax code.
In order to achieve full equality for married same-sex couples and families, however, Congress must repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA mandates that the IRS discriminate against those couples by refusing to recognize same-sex spouses; the economic and emotional impact of this blanket discriminatory policy can be devastating, particularly for same-sex surviving spouses. HRC continues to push for the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would end DOMA’s discrimination and ensure that the federal government respects all lawfully-married couples.
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