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November 15, 2015

Ohio has a new tax form for same-sex married couples

Columbus--Although it cannot recognize gay and lesbian  couples because of the 2004 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil union, Ohio has issued a new tax form for legally married same-sex couples who file their federal taxes jointly.

State income taxes are based on a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income taken from their federal form. But if a same-sex couple files their federal taxes jointly, they must still file their Ohio forms individually because of the ban amendment.

The new Ohio Schedule IT-S, “Federal AGI to be Reported by Same-Gender Taxpayers Filing a Joint Federal Return” allows couples to use their adjusted gross income from their joint federal return, while still filing as individuals in the state.

As a byproduct of this, they will not pay the “marriage penalty” that married couples often pay on their income taxes, which also costs the state that money.

Same-sex couples legally married in a jurisdiction that allows such nuptials are now allowed to file joint federal returns following the June Supreme Court decision overturning Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. After that ruling, which decided that the federal government could recognize same-sex marriages, President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies to start recognizing same-sex couples, including the IRS.

Elyzabeth Holford, the executive director of Equality Ohio, was not amused by the state’s handling of the issue.

“A separate form for same-sex couples,” she wrote in a release. “That’s the ‘solution’ from the Ohio Department of Taxation for same-sex couples who have legally married in another state. Despite being able to file taxes jointly at the federal level, loving, committed same-sex couples are being treated like legal strangers.”

Ian James, founder of Freedom Ohio, noted, “The irony here is that since the state of Ohio is forbidden to recognize legal marriages of same-gender couples, it forces married gay couples to file taxes individually rather than jointly, and in turns gives significant tax benefit to married gay couples that married straight couples are not permitted to receive.”

“While many will appreciate the extra tax benefits, this separate and unequal treatment of families is unfair, unequal and is not the treatment we seek,” he noted.

Both groups are working on efforts to repeal the amendment and replace it with marriage equality. Freedom Ohio plans to put their amendment to voters in 2014, while Equality Ohio is part of a coalition called Why Marriage Matters Ohio that has no set date in mind but wants to engage in conversations across the state for as long as it takes to ensure support for the repeal.

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