TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, June 30, 2013

68% of Same-Sex Couples Face $2,495 Average Tax Penalty by Not Filing Joint Return

James Glynn (Webster University), Federal Discrimination of Married Same-Sex Couples:

As the discussion and debate in the political arena intensifies concerning the social aspects of same-sex marriage, there are also adverse economic and legal effects on same-sex couples due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In order to sample the effect of DOMA, we examined the tax consequences of the inability of such couples to file a tax return based on "married filing jointly" status by surveying same-sex couples who were married in Massachusetts. After comparing their current tax liability versus their theoretical tax liability using the "married filing jointly" status, we found that sixty-eight percent of those couples suffered an average tax penalty in 2008 of $2,495. Based on this actual adverse impact, we examined a legal remedy based on the failure to accord deference to the States with respect to matters specifically involving marriage in violation of the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution.

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The estate and gift tax savings and simplification of other aspects of financial life may make the marriage penalty worth paying. Still, for most people the decision to marry will continue to be made with little consideration to its financial effects.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Jun 30, 2013 12:52:39 PM