This year has seen the repeal of more state bans against same-sex marriage. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia now recognize same-sex marriages. Additionally, Missouri recognizes same-sex marriages conducted outside the state, even though such marriages cannot be performed in Missouri.
How does all of this affect taxes?
The federal government recognizes all same-sex marriages. If a couple has a valid marriage license from a state that recognizes the marriage, then the couple is considered married for federal taxes, even if they are currently living in one of the remaining states that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
Bottom line for taxes: same-sex couples file their federal taxes as married.
Things are still tricky at the state level. If a same-sex couple is filing a state tax return for one of the 30 states that now recognize same-sex marriage, they’ll file that return as married.
It’s trickier if the couple has a filing obligation in a state that doesn’t recognize their marriage.
For example, Nebraska still doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. A couple from Omaha could cross the Missouri River into Iowa, get a marriage license from Iowa, and go back to Nebraska, where Nebraska would not recognize their marriage.
But because the marriage license is from Iowa, the federal government recognizes the marriage. That couple would file as married on their federal taxes, but as two single people on their Nebraska tax return.
It gets even trickier if we’re talking about filings in multiple states. If the couple in the example in the last paragraph has filing obligations in Iowa and Nebraska (extremely common for people living in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska), they would file their federal taxes and Iowa taxes as married, but their Nebraska taxes as two single people. They would likely need to perform recalculations of their tax situation to fill out their Nebraska taxes.
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