Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Assembly passes resolution on tax equity for domestic partners

Just one week after Californians filed their state taxes, the California State Assembly approved a joint resolution that urges the IRS to change a policy that requires many same-sex couples to file two federal tax returns and pay unfairly high taxes.

That policy is the result of the federal government not recognizing how California applies its community property laws to same-sex couples.

Assembly Joint Resolution 29 passed with bipartisan support in a vote of 59-5. The measure was authored by Assembly member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles, pictured at right) and sponsored by LGBT lobbying group Equality California.

“Today, Democrats and Republicans joined together to demand that the federal government stop its current policy discriminating against same-sex couples when it comes to taxes,” said Geoff Kors, EQCA’s executive director, in statement announcing the vote today [Thursday, April 22]. “It is time for the federal government to work together to make a real difference in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples.”

In February 2006, the IRS issued a memorandum stating that California registered domestic partners could not claim a community property interest in their income for federal income tax purposes, according to EQCA.

Instead, California registered domestic partners must report their incomes separately to the federal government.

However, California statutes and case law confirm that registered domestic partners and married same-sex couples whose marriages are valid under California law have the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual married couples, including rights related to community property, the lobbying group said.

The state treats income of registered domestic partners and married couples as community property.

“Since federal case law holds that states, not the federal government, determine the characteristics of property ownership, the IRS should defer to California law in this instance,” EQCA’s statement said.

“The IRS’s refusal to accept how California treats same-sex couples’ property means these couples suffer unequal tax treatment,” Feuer said in the statement. “Who else has to file two federal tax returns, let alone pay unfairly high taxes – all because the IRS flouts settled constitutional rules? It’s long past time for the IRS to respect California law and honor the rights of California’s same-sex couples.”

The joint resolution seeks tax equity for California resident same-sex couples who have community property arising from their status as registered domestic partners or from their marriages.

AJR 29 will now be considered in the California Senate.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 22, 2010 @ 3:56 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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