HRC Blog

Watch: Minnesota Same-Sex Couple Navigates the Tax Landscape in a Marriage Equality State

Post Submitted by Tom Knabel, HRC Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Board's Public Policy Committee

As an HRC Director and member of the Minnesotans United Board that led the effort resulting in the legislature passing a bill to create marriage equality for same-sex couples in Minnesota, I have had a number of opportunities to talk to a variety of audiences about the rights, as well as the responsibilities, of marriage.  This was recently brought home when I received a call about a request from a local television news reporter looking for a married same-sex couple to interview.  The piece she was doing, as part of a series on changes in tax laws affecting Minnesotans, was about married same-sex couples filing taxes jointly for the first time.

My husband, Kent Allin, and I married in Connecticut four years ago to celebrate our 20th anniversary together.  At the time, it was more of a personal statement about legitimizing our relationship, as the legal implications for us, living in a state without marriage equality and with the federal Defense of Marriage Act still in place, were minimal. 

On August 1, 2013, thanks to the amazing work of the coalition, including HRC, that defeated a constitutional amendment that would have precluded marriage equality followed by an equally amazing legislative campaign, the Minnesota law went into effect, and that, along with the Supreme Court decision on DOMA earlier in the summer, meant that not only was our relationship legal and validated by the state we call home, but that the responsibilities of marriage were now very real.

As the “financial” member of our family, I did research into the tax and other impacts of our new status.  When the IRS issued it’s ruling stating that same-sex married couples had the option to re-file taxes jointly for up to three years before the DOMA ruling, I had a tax advisor review our two tax returns (I have always done both).  We found that re-filing would result in a considerably higher tax bill and that filing jointly beginning in 2014 would cause us to pay the infamous tax “marriage penalty.”  Kent and I agreed that being treated by our government like any other married couple is certainly worth it.

When the call about the interview request came, I was in the audience of a town hall meeting on building LGBT community, which our Twin Cities Political and Community Outreach committee had helped put together at the request of Congressman Keith Ellison.  The planned airing of the clip was only a few hours away, so I called Kent to ensure he was comfortable with the interview and rushed home.  The reporter and cameraman would be meeting us there.

Both were very friendly and we thought it went well.  We watched the news a couple of hours later with some trepidation about how things would be put together in the clip, and were both please with the result. All in all, it was a frantic but very interesting and fun evening.

For  an overview of state income tax requirements and any guidance provided by state revenue agencies for married same-sex couples, visit www.hrc.org/taxes.

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