by Sylvia Vallotton
One of the biggest changes in recognition of same-sex married couples is finally happening. Filing your tax return and being able to check the box that says married.
Let’s find out if you meet the requirements to file as married. Were you married in a state, or country, that legally recognizes same sex marriage in 2013 or before? If so, congratulations! You count as a married couple in the world of federal income tax filing. You will need to file your 2013 income taxes as either Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. Most of the time filing jointly is more advantageous. Filing separately has some restrictions that generally cost couples money, so this is where getting tax advice from your tax preparer will come into play.
The state level is where your filing status gets tricky. If you live in a state where same-sex marriage is recognized, you will file the same way you file your federal income taxes, most likely Married Filing Jointly. Unfortunately, most of the readership of this publication lives in Missouri or Kansas where same-sex marriage is not only not recognized, but constitutionally banned.
First the good news: Missouri filers will file with the same status as they do on their federal income tax return. One federal return and one state return, nice and neat.
Kansas on the other hand is messy. You don’t get to file as married – you go back to either single or head of household for your state return. However, you must attach a copy of your federal return, and the Kansas Department of Revenue has stated that since the state return has to match the federal return, you will have to send in a “mock” federal return with the filing status you are using for your Kansas state return. If that wasn’t bad enough, this means having to figure out how you are going to separate the kids, mortgage deductions, investment income and more. Your tax preparer or accountant will be of help here as well.
One last note: If you and your spouse were married before 2013 you are eligible to file amended federal tax returns reflecting your married status. You can go back up to three years. This is an option that may benefit some taxpayers.