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Tax Lawyer Robert Wood Forbes Article--Gay Or Straight, Marriage Matters--For Taxes

It may sound myopic, but as a tax lawyer for 30 years, I tend to think of taxes first in all things. Even marriage. The gay marriage debate raises big issues, but I find taxes at the front and center of them. As a number of states and the IRS move to address marriage tax issues, you might think the main issue would be whether same-sex couples can file joint tax returns. Indeed, in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, 1:09-cv-10309-JLT, (D. Mass. July 8, 2010) same-sex couples married in Massachusetts argued that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. § 7, violated their equal protection rights by preventing them from filing joint federal income tax returns. The plaintiffs argued that a married individual who files a joint return is generally subject to a lower tax than an unmarried individual or a head of household. The court agreed, granting summary judgment for plaintiffs, though an appeal is expected. Yet marriage has a whole host of tax issues, in addition to joint filing. Some of these issues can make the denial of joint filing look like small potatoes.



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