Tax season is a special time for married same-sex couples in the United States. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, same-sex couples cannot file joint federal tax returns even if they are legally married.
Here in California, we are allowed to file joint state returns, a right retained by couples married before a majority of voters passed Proposition 8 making marriage a special privilege retained only by heterosexual couples.
This situation makes tax returns for married same-sex couples in California complicated.
This year, the Internal Revenue Service allows married same-sex couples to divide their income under California's community property laws. (IRS form 8958 and Publication 55) So, while C.J. and I cannot file a joint federal tax return, we can divide our income and the taxes already withheld between us when we pretend to be unmarried people filing separate returns.
Because we have to fill out a fake joint federal return in order to complete a joint return for the state of California, each year we've been married we've had to determine how much we could have saved if we filed a real joint federal return. This makes it possible for us to put an actual dollar figure on the value of opposite marriage.
In tax-year 2010 we paid 1,631 dollars more federal income taxes than we would have had we been able to file a joint return. In tax-year 2011, we paid 850 dollars more. This year, because of the new community property rules, we will pay only 111 dollars more.
Notice a trend?
Because I noticed one and had the week off, I decided to make a graph. You can see it at the top of this post.
When C.J. and I got married, we were told our love would not only bring about the end of traditional marriage but of western civilization itself. We we not insulted by this--we were empowered. It's taken longer than we were led to believe, but if the trend revealed in the graph above continues, come tax-time next year same-sex marriages will finally be worth more than opposite marriages in real taxable dollars, thus ending whatever financial superiority opposite marriage once held, at least in states with community property.
Western Civilization, consider yourself warned.