Friday, September 16, 2011
U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison urged the IRS Friday to provide guidance to same-sex couples when filing their federal taxes, which McCollum said should have been provided by the agency years ago.
McCollum, along with 74 members of Congress, signed a letter that says the agency has a responsibility to provide information for same-sex couples, who encounter complicated tax statuses because of inconsistencies in tax law between the states and federal government.
Same-sex couples who have legal relationships in at least 15 states through marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships aren’t recognized by the federal government because of the Defense of Marriage Act. That makes filing taxes much more complicated for those couples.
In fact, in some states, the IRS is inaccurately penalizing same-sex couples. In Nevada, Washington and California, which have community property deduction laws, the IRS has improperly assessed fines against couples who claim that deduction, because the IRS systems don’t recognize what would otherwise be a legal deduction.
“The LGBT community still faces discrimination in this country and that is unacceptable. In this case, it’s even more disturbing when this discrimination comes from our federal government,” McCollum said in a statement Friday. “The IRS has the ability to provide federal tax guidance to same-sex couples, and it should have done so years ago. The LGBT community deserves to be treated fairly and equally by the U.S. government not only for federal tax purposes but in any other situation.”
The letter presses the IRS to come up with a set of guidelines to aid same-sex couples in filing their taxes.
“The IRS has the ability to provide specific guidance to ease the complexity and uncertainty surrounding these couples,” the letter states. “While full equality cannot be achieved without repealing DOMA, this guidance will provide significant relief to hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, and save critical resources by avoiding unnecessary audits and inappropriate enforcement actions.”