Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Indiana Tax Laws Provide Another Battlefield for Same Sex Marriage Debate

Senator Brandt Hershman
The federal government and most of the civilized world have either given legal recognition to or are in the process of giving legal recognition to same sex couples. It’s only a matter of time before all 50 states either voluntarily or involuntarily recognize these unions.

In a backwards state like Indiana, that seems like a long way off. Here it seems we’re trying to find new and interesting ways to make life difficult for married couples of the same gender. One needs look no further than the current tax code.

Federally, a married couple regardless of gender of the married parties can file jointly. In a state like Massachusetts or California or one of the other states that recognizes gay marriage, that federal tax return is used to calculate the state tax return for the married couple and so on and so forth…you know…like all married couples.

In Indiana, same sex couples must file separately since Indiana does not recognize same sex marriage. You can file a joint federal tax return as a married couple in Indiana if you are a legally married same sex couple, but you can’t use that federal return as the basis for a joint state tax return.

Why?

It’s simple. Indiana doesn’t recognize same sex marriage. That means the arduous step of filing a joint federal return and two sample federal returns so that each partner can figure their taxes. The Indiana Senate is taking steps to make sure that it stays that way with a bill they've offered up.  If it sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen, it probably is being filed right now. 

Senator Brandt Hershman told the Indianapolis Star that he doesn't believe tax policy is a place to have a debate about same sex marriage.  I say HORSEFEATHERS!  This is EXACTLY the kind of bread and butter issue that hits home with Hoosiers.

Sounds like a 14th Amendment case to me…Equal protection under the law. What’s good for straight married couples should be good for gay married couples when it comes to filing taxes. Perhaps Indiana’s antiquated ways will help the state recognize same sex marriages more quickly after all. Until then, it’s just another way Indiana tells a portion of its citizens that they are second class citizens.  

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