A Deeper Look at Tax Issues for Domestic Partners and Same Sex CouplesRoni Deutch
March 30, 2009 — 1,832 views
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, "nothing in this world is sure but death and taxes". Unfortunately, this is more than true for domestic parents and same-sex couples all across the country. What many people do not realize is that there are significant tax disadvantages for non-married couples that nearly all gay couples face every year. Even though dozens of states and over 50% of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic couple benefits, the federal government does not offer any.
Civil Marriages vs. Legal Documents
To understand the importance of tax equality, I think it is first important to understand the common misconceptions surrounding same-sex couples and taxes. You have probably heard before that civil marriages and same-sex marriage are not even necessary, that you can have any lawyer draw up the necessary documents. However, this is false. While it is true you can have a power of attorney appointed for certain asset-sharing and finances, it does not assure your partner access to your full wealth like a marriage would. Additionally, we all know lawyer fees are not cheap. In fact, it can cost a same sex couple thousands of dollars in legal fees to get similar financial rights as those awarded by a marriage. While a marriage license on the other hand, usually costs under about $50.
Taxes for Same-Sex Couples with Children
Perhaps the biggest tax inequality concerning the LGBT community affects couples who have children. Since the federal government does not recognize same sex marriages, couples who have children, or adopt, do not always qualify for the benefits most married couples would. Due to this large disadvantage, many same-sex couples with children can only take advantage of tax benefits for single parents.
Can Gay Marriage Save the Economy?
According to studies the U.S. gay community spends a whopping $174 billion annually within the country, and just imagine how high that number would be if those couples were allowed to wed. With that much money being spent you would think the federal government would want a piece of the pie. Although the US economy may not be saved by gay marriage's legalization, it could certainly help.
Social Security Tax Disadvantage
The LGBT community, like everyone else, must pay their social security taxes every tax season. The difference is, no matter how many years they have been with their partner, they cannot take spousal benefits or survivors' benefits. Reports from the census 2000 found "when a gay, lesbian, or bisexual senior dies, his or her surviving partner faces a financial loss that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars."
LGBT Real Estate Taxes
Another financial difficulty same sex couples face has to do with the transfer or property between one another. An article by the Advocate Online found that "when someone puts his or her same-sex partner on the title to a home, it often constitutes a transfer of 50% of the value of the home -- as if the two were strangers -- and is taxed accordingly. Different-sex married couples do not pay this tax. Inheritance taxes apply when a taxpayer dies and leaves assets to another person. Different-sex spouses receive a complete exemption from such inheritance taxes, but same-sex partners do not. Because thresholds for state inheritance taxes are much lower than the federal threshold, inheriting the couple's common home (or even the half of it that belonged to the deceased partner) can trigger inheritance tax."
About the Author
The Tax Lady Roni Deutch and her law firm Roni Lynn Deutch, A Professional Tax Corporation have been helping taxpayers across the nation find IRS tax relief for over seventeen years. The firm has an experienced IRS tax attorney who will fight the IRS on your behalf.