Income tax season is upon us once again.
Same-sex couples who got married in 2013 in one of the 17 states (including Washington D.C.) that recognized same-sex marriage as of December 31, 2013, now have the choice of filing as married filing jointly or married filing separately. It would be good to do your tax return both ways to see which way is best for you. Don’t be surprised if one of these two filing statuses will result in a larger tax bill than you had when you had to file as singles. Filing as a single is no longer an option, even if it produces a lower tax bill, just as the case with heterosexual couples.
If one person’s income is substantially larger than the other’s, filing jointly will usually be the choice which results in a lower tax bill. Couples where both have high incomes have a good chance of running into a bigger tax bill, called a “marriage penalty”. In either case, don’t guess – try it both ways to be sure.
The new rules for filing apply to same-sex couples who were married in states where such marriages are lawful, even if they live in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages. For same-sex couples who live in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, you must file as single, even if you are in a domestic partnership or civil union.
For same-sex couples who were married in Utah the last several days of December 2013 after the federal court struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage, the couples are treated as married even though an appeal is pending.
If a same-sex couple has been legally married for several years, they could be eligible for refunds going back to 2010. If you qualify, you can prepare amended returns for 2010 (before April 15th 2013), 2011, and 2012. If you would receive a refund, you can file the amended return. If it does not produce a lower tax bill, then do not file them.
For more details, contact your accountant or the IRS. This information is taken from a news article from the Seattle Times on February 23, 2014.