IRS Ruling Is A Recognition of Fact

July 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm 84 comments

by Brian Leubitz

While this might not have been on everybody’s radar, the IRS kicked down a huge decision for California same-sex couples. But PLR-149319-09 (PDF) has some big importance to California registered domestic partners and same-sex married couple. Long story short, the IRS is now recognizing California’s community property rules. And that’s big. Really big.

Let’s start from the beginning. I’m no accountant, but bear with me as I try to recall my tax class in law school. Basically, California, like many Western states, has a default rule for marriage that any property acquired (other than through inheritance) is treated as “community property” between the two married spouses. For California same-gender couples that got married in 2008, these community property rules apply unless you have opted out through contract (a “pre-nup”). Also, in 2006 and 2007, the legislature passed, and the Governor signed, two pieces of legislation that granted registered domestic partnerships the same rights and responsibilities of marriage, with community property first being excluded for tax purposes in 2006, and then being completely folded in to the RDP in 2007.

Of course, the problem here is that under the so-called “Defense of Marriage” Act, the federal government was not supposed to recognize any marriage not between a man and a woman. Thus, we had a real pickle on our hands. Under California property law, the property was community property, half belonged to both partners. But how that property got there was anybody’s guess. Just off the top of my head, there are a number of ways the federal government could have handled the issue:

1) Ignored community property between same gender couples entirely. Sure, it would cause conflicts with state tax issues, but who cares, according to the Yes on 8 folks, this is a future of civilization thing here.
2) Acknowledge the community property, treating it as a gift between two unrelated partners for federal tax purposes. This would have been very bad for same-gender couples. Basically, couples would have had to pay gift tax on any difference in income over $13,000 (or so, depending on what the gift tax is that year). That would get pricy fast.
3) Acknowledge the community property, but treat it as earned jointly. Basically, each partner, for tax purposes, earned half of the income. This would be far more favorable and basically treat community property the same for all couples.

I’ll let you read PLR-149319-09 (PDF) on your own if you’d like to, but long story short, the IRS went for #3. Once they went over the law, it seems obvious, but these things rarely are obvious before hand. And that’s the case here. The IRS first relied on past precedent to first say that the federal goverment defers to the states to determine property law (U.S. v. Mitchell) and then to say that California community property law determines who owns what for California couples (US v Malcolm). Finally, the IRS simply stated that once California treated property as community property, the IRS would do so as well.

Now, in practical terms, what does this mean? Well, say you are a couple where one partner earns substantially more than the other. You’ll have noticed that your California tax bills went down with community property. Now the same will apply to the federal government. For example, say “Adam” earns $50,000 as a public school teacher. His husband “Bill” earns $150,000 as a investment hot-shot or something. (No comment on our society’s priorities there.) Under this new law, each would report income of $100,000. For a variety of reasons in the tax code, that’s going to be advantageous. Now, I’m not a tax lawyer, and this isn’t specific advice. If this is something that might apply, ask whomever prepares your taxes or some other tax professional.

There is one wrinkle in here. Technically, the IRS “private letter ruling” specifically addresses registered domestic partnerships, and uses that language. However, the ruling is entirely directed at the concept of community property, which applies in the same way for the 2008 marriages. In theory, it should be handled the same way, but theory often gets you audited. Anyway, discuss away in the comments. I’m hoping somebody else has some tax experience that can flesh out my reading of the PLR.

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84 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alan E.  |  July 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    I am interested to see if that affects me as a married guy in CA. I’ll send an email to my tax people tonight!

    Reply
  • 2. Rhonda  |  July 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    hmmm

    Reply
    • 3. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      hehehe

      Reply
    • 4. JonT  |  July 13, 2010 at 5:21 pm

      Interesting… Only applicable to California?

      (Підписуватися :)

      Reply
      • 5. JonT  |  July 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm

        Ahh, so common property states (of which there are 9: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), and the ‘right’ kinds of DP’s. Ok, it’s a step :)

        Unfortunately Colorado is not, though we do have ‘a designated beneficiary agreement which will grant them limited rights.‘ So no real Civil Unions (guess we can’t get civilized here in CO :)

        Neat. Colorado has a long ways to go hehe. But then again, we were the passers of Amendment 2 (struck down in Evans v. Romer).

        Ahh well, small steps. We’ll get there eventually.

        Reply
  • 6. Kathleen  |  July 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Guest blogger at Nan Hunter’s site opined on limits of the CCA

    http://hunterforjustice.typepad.com/hunter_of_justice/2010/week22/index.html

    Note also the link at the top of the page (next to video) to a WSJ article.

    Reply
    • 7. Kathleen  |  July 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      drat. Forgot to subscribe.

      Reply
    • 8. Dave  |  July 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm

      Funny thing is in the WSJ example a Married Opposite Sex couple would have to pay well over 70K in taxes, significantly more than opposite sex couple.

      Reply
  • 9. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    And what’s the situation with heterosexual married couples whose marriages are recognized in every state and on the federal level?  What if it’s not Adam the school teacher, but Eve the school teacher?  Do they also have to write that Eve earned $100’000, as well as her husband Bill?

    And what if one of the spouses (same-sex or opposite-sex couple) or partners doesn’t have a job at all — stay-at-home parent?  Do they also have to say that they earned $100’000 that tax year?

    Ugh…  My mother and my sister are accountants, but I didn’t get that gene…  Instead I got the gay gene…  Lucky me…

    Reply
    • 10. Ann S.  |  July 13, 2010 at 5:02 pm

      Hetero married couples file jointly, which presents different issues entirely — not this issue, though. This changes nothing for hetero married couples.

      Reply
      • 11. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 13, 2010 at 5:07 pm

        @Ann S.
        Oh, so they just say, “We earned together, as a married couple, $200’000”?

        I don’t understand why not let a couple in a recognized relationship file their taxes jointly?
        All the federal government has to do is acknowledge the existence of such relationships.
        And that’s where the repeal of DOMA’s section 3 comes in handy! ;)

        Reply
      • 12. Ann S.  |  July 13, 2010 at 5:15 pm

        @ ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ — it’s something like that. Each person’s income is reported with pay stubs and all (the IRS is all about the verification), and taxes for the hetero couple are calculated based on the joint income. This article from the Wall Street Journal has a nice graphic and a video that are very helpful (plus there is a picture of my brother and his husband in the video, as a bonus). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704080104575286931017169308.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLESecondNews

        Reply
      • 13. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm

        @Ann S.
        Oh, thanks for the link!
        The video in The Wall Street Journal really explained everything!
        It should be added to the blog post here!
        I’ll try to include it, but I have little hope it will show up in my comment.

        Reply
    • 14. Ғĕłỹҳ  |  July 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm

      Uhmmm….Lucky me too!!! :P

      Reply
    • 15. Ғĕłỹҳ  |  July 13, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      (Repost for clarity…)

      “My mother and my sister are accountants, but I didn’t get that gene… Instead I got the gay gene… Lucky me…”

      Uhmmm….Lucky me too!!! :P

      IIINHIIINRIIIKA 4 IIIN6YPAIIIKA!

      Reply
  • 16. eDee  |  July 13, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

    It’s called joint income.
    I used to work as did my husband, our joint income was X.
    Now I’m a stay at home mom, I don’t have an income other than my husbands, our joint income is still X we just have less of X then we did before.

    I read the above article 3 times and now I have a headache – and the writer explained it well, it’s just the reasoning.

    Oh the Drama that is caused by hate and control!

    Reply
    • 17. Ғĕłỹҳ  |  July 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm

      You would think with all that extra time on your hands you would be having more X and not less! (hehehehe) Oh well…

      :P

      Reply
      • 18. eDee  |  July 14, 2010 at 4:44 am

        @Ғĕłỹҳ, after kids you have must less X all the way around!
        LOLOLOLOL

        Reply
  • 19. Richard W. Fitch  |  July 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    whoda thought that the good ole IRS would provide a little ole sledge hammer to DOMA?!?!?

    Reply
  • 20. Richard A. Walter (soon to be Walter-Jernigan)  |  July 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Subscribing

    Reply
  • 21. Sagesse  |  July 13, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Subscribing

    Reply
  • 22. Mark M (Seattle)  |  July 13, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Hmmmmm….wonder if this will soon apply to the other community property states

    Reply
  • 23. Cat  |  July 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    We were already married in The Netherlands, immigrated to California (separate visas, of course) , and are recognized as married through California Senate Bill 54 (and by the California Tax Franchise Board starting tax year 2010). I wonder if this new IRS rule applies to us. I really really really hope so…

    Reply
  • 24. Dave  |  July 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I don’t see how this is fair to opposite sex couples, this gives same sex couples an unfair advantage.

    Here is why this gives same sex couples an unfair advantage because:

    1. Tax brackets for married couples aren’t twice as high as for the single. If one married couple makes $150,000 and another makes $50,000 they would be taxed higher than if they filed single with $100,000 each.

    2. Deductions are phased out after 180K for married and single couples, with this same sex couples won’t be phased out until they reach 360K while opposite sex couples are phased out at 180K.

    Both of those will be greatly amplified if Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year.

    Reply
    • 25. eDee  |  July 14, 2010 at 5:30 am

      This is a good thing.
      This gives us (us meaning gays and your straight allies (like me)) an advantage of sorts, now straight couples will be fighting for the same rights as gay couples.
      As a former hater I can tell you ‘They’ don’t want to ever admit ‘You’ have something ‘They’ do not. It’s the ‘Jones’s Syndrome’ It’s an embarrassment, You‘ve one-upped them.
      Even those who will say “It‘s because rights are being taken away from Christians” (because you know they will), this doesn’t strengthen their bond, because money always breaks them apart.
      Then take all those who ‘just don’t care/don’t want to get involved’, this is money – now they’ll care.

      We need to spread this “tax advantage” information around, get the ‘Them’ fighting for the ‘Us‘!

      ((Please forgive me for not using ‘same gender couples’ and ‘opposite gender couples’ it’s a lot to type and we are all familiar with our labels.))

      Reply
  • 26. Bob  |  July 13, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Wooo this thread is way over my head, confusing, I prefer the other one,

    (married and single couples and same sex couples)

    At least over there the Buddist and the Pastafarian, have the Christians all figured out gotta love that Church of the Flying Spaghetti

    Reply
    • 27. PamC  |  July 14, 2010 at 8:54 am

      lol :)

      Reply
  • 28. E  |  July 13, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Maybe someday the discrimination of single people will come to an end…

    Reply
    • 29. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  July 14, 2010 at 10:23 am

      HUH? How is this discrimination of a single person?
      To have joint property and joint tax filing you would need to not be single…..no discrimination there

      Reply
  • 30. Lynn E  |  July 14, 2010 at 1:21 am

    PLRs usually are determinations about specific cases, enforcable only to the case of the petitioner. Read the top paragraph on Pg. 5 of the ruling “may not be cited as precedent,” etc.

    Reply
  • 31. eDee  |  July 14, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Completely off topic, but how do I get an avatar like ”ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ”?

    Reply
    • 32. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 14, 2010 at 5:48 am

      @eDee
      Funny you should ask: Felyx asked me the same thing a couple of days ago.
      So, the answer: for that you need to register an account at wordpress.com (this blog is using wordpress blog engine and their universal profile system), then go to their dashboard (follow the same link I gave you), edit your profile, upload a picture and then wait about a week — I don’t know why, but this is how long it takes for a picture to become visible on P8TT (as you see, Felyx still doesn’t have a picture, though we uploaded it several days ago).  And, of course, you’ll always have to make sure you are logged in on wordpress before you post something here for your picture to show up.

      Reply
      • 33. Franck  |  July 14, 2010 at 5:52 am

        I never got a wordpress account and have never been logged in… But I noticed: the pictures for my avatar and yours are both hosted on gravatar.com. My bet is, that’s where you need to get an account.

        Reply
    • 34. Franck  |  July 14, 2010 at 5:50 am

      I might be mistaken, but ever since I subscribed to this site, my avatar has started showing up on blogs whenever I signed with my e-mail address. That includes this one, of course.

      Reply
      • 35. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 14, 2010 at 5:52 am

        @Franck
        Yep, wordpress uses Gravatar website for profiles as well.

        Reply
      • 36. sneaks911  |  July 14, 2010 at 6:16 am

        I will have to try this. Thanks Franck and Kirille

        Reply
      • 37. Franck  |  July 14, 2010 at 6:19 am

        You’re welcome!

        Reply
      • 38. JonT  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

        Neat, thanks. Had always wondered about that, but didn’t want to ask :)

        Reply
    • 39. stuckathomemom  |  July 14, 2010 at 10:08 am

      signed up for gravatar using the e-ddress I use here and already posting is different. I don’t see my image yet, but I have a feeling it’s going to show up soon.
      Thank you everyone.
      ~e

      Reply
      • 40. stuckathomemom  |  July 14, 2010 at 10:09 am

        well looky there!

        Reply
    • 41. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:40 am

      How wonderful!
      Now everybody has gravatars!
      So much better to read email notifications like that — with bigger gravatars of everybody!
      Cool!

      Reply
  • 42. Rhonda  |  July 14, 2010 at 6:21 am

    well, it works quickly if you upload (in my case) your pic on gravatar.

    Reply
    • 43. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:13 am

      @Rhonda
      Hell’s bells!
      When I was signing up, there was no Gravatar, so I had no other option!
      I’m glad you didn’t have to wait that long!
      BTW, who’s who on the picture: which one is you and which one is your partner?

      Reply
      • 44. Rhonda  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:33 am

        My wife is the blonde, I the brunette. That was our wedding on the beach in CT.

        Reply
      • 45. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:38 am

        @Rhonda
        Lovely!
        I hope someday to have a similar picture to share!    :)

        Reply
      • 46. Rhonda  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:51 am

        I can’t wait to see yours too :D

        <3 Rhonda

        Reply
  • 47. Rhonda  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Re: DADT trial

    LCR is going to post the transcripts! Don’t know when – but they will. http://www.lgbtpov.com/2010/07/don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-case-opens-with-tension-about-log-cabin%E2%80%99s-standing/

    Reply
    • 48. Kathleen  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:44 pm

      Rhonda, thanks so much for keeping on this and locating a place we can see what’s happening!!

      Reply
  • 49. EdC  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Super-scribing

    Reply
  • 50. Sagesse  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Immigration reform

    This Congress, This Year: Families Facing Separation Counting on Immigration Reform

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-ralls/this-congress-this-year-f_b_645694.html

    Have not heard anyone raise this, but it seems important to pass the LGBT piece of immigration reform separately, now, and not as part of overall immigration reform. If it becomes part of comprehensive immigration reform, someone will make LGBT rights a bargaining chip in the process of getting the larger bill passed. The Bart Stupak effect. And that’s not likely to turn out well.

    As an aside, I usually post to the most recent thread, even if the subject is OT the thread itself. Does that work for people?

    Reply
    • 51. Rhonda  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:52 am

      Works fine for me. I’ve been doing it myself.

      <3 Rhonda

      Reply
    • 52. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  July 14, 2010 at 8:02 am

      @Sagesse

      Thank you for these news!  Sounds exciting…
      I’ll sum up:

      This Thursday (July 15) Representatives Nadler and Honda will be joined by new co-sponsors of UAFA and new proposals call for passing the bill in this Congressthis year!

      I’m kind of a pessimist, so I seriously doubt they will garner enough support, even apart from comprehensive immigration reform, but who knows…  This is exactly the bill I need right now most of all!

      Reply
    • 53. Franck  |  July 14, 2010 at 8:22 am

      Ditto, Kirille. This bill is also exactly what I’d need right now.

      To be honest, my boyfriend’s defiance about the bill mainly comes from it being part of a package. Unless it’s put forward as a standalone bill, he’s 100% sure it’ll get dropped (hence the reason why I ran into difficulties convincing him to try and ask his city to support the bill)

      – Franck P. Rabeson
      Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1118 days, as of today.

      Reply
    • 54. JonT  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:35 am

      Yeah, I do this as well.

      Reply
  • 55. Sagesse  |  July 14, 2010 at 7:59 am

    You will either laugh, or cry, or both. Evidently they are trying to authenticate this comic book.

    ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Policy Explained By Comic Book

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/13/dont-ask-dont-tell-policy_n_644863.html

    Reply
    • 56. Rhonda  |  July 14, 2010 at 8:54 am

      that made me laugh! I can’t remember how many of those stupid comics were available for HIV/AIDS safety when I was in service. (Pre DADT)

      Reply
    • 57. JonT  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

      Wow, that was… interesting haha.

      Is it for real?

      Reply
      • 58. Sagesse  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm

        Somewhere on the page it says they believe it’s real, but haven’t tracked down a citation for it.

        Reply
    • 59. Kathleen  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      The Huff Post story even references one of my favorite movies. Not too often you see allusions to Bye Bye Birdie!

      Reply
      • 60. Ronnie  |  July 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

        Loves it….<3…Ronnie

        Reply
      • 61. Alan E.  |  July 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm

        I loved on Mad Men when Sal did the song and dance for his wife. The look she gave was priceless and said it all: “My husband is soooo gay.”

        Reply
      • 62. Kathleen  |  July 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm

        @Alan, I love that scene, too. The look on Sal’s wife’s face was perfect – for just a moment she was unable to ignore that nagging thought that she’d been suppressing for years.

        Reply
      • 63. Alan E.  |  July 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm

        Only 10 more days until the new season! We are in marathon season right now.

        Reply
  • 64. Sagesse  |  July 14, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Fingers crossed.

    Argentina Senate to Vote on Gay Marriage

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/14/world/americas/14argentina.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

    Reply
    • 65. Franck  |  July 14, 2010 at 8:35 am

      Yes, crossing fingers too. this one should have happened a while ago… Hopefully it’ll all be like Portugal and the fears will have been for nothing.

      – Franck P. Rabeson
      Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1118 days, as of today.

      Reply
      • 66. Sagesse  |  July 14, 2010 at 8:45 am

        I haven’t been following the local politics. The article says popular opinion is 70% in favour, and the bill has already passed the lower house. A lot of articles are focused on the last minute hysterical ranting and renting of garments by religious groups over the weekend, but logic suggests this should pass.

        Reply
    • 67. JonT  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:52 am

      The money quote: ‘Mrs. Kirchner harshly criticized church leaders on Monday, saying that their discourse on the issue resembled “the times of the Crusades” and that they failed to acknowledge how socially liberal Argentina had become.

      Sounds like a familiar problem :)

      Reply
  • 68. Rhonda  |  July 14, 2010 at 9:07 am

    from the nOm blog.http://nomblog.com/
    read the update. Completely ironic

    200,000 Argentinians March for Marriage!
    July 14, 2010 – 11:51 am

    Yesterday, a massive demonstration protesting politicians’ plans to push SSM took place in Argentina:

    The demonstration’s organizers counted 200,000; mainstream media originally reported 70,000, and are now whittling that down to 50,000. Here’s an eyewitness report:

    “The march was a huge success. We think there were maybe 200.000 people. The newspapers counted up to 70.000 people. Mostly families with children and youngsters. The LGBT movement called for a parallel march: they gathered just 300 people (following the newspapers that endorse their cause).

    Our march was peaceful. We sang some folk songs and pop. No prominent stars in the stage. Just simple people. A big screen showed the different marches that took place in the Provinces to defend marriage between a man and a woman. In the “inner Argentina” as we call it, there is an important opposition to gay marriage.

    The march took place in the front of the Parliament. Tomorrow, the vote will be in favour or against ssm, without any other option.

    There is another one: the UCR (the historical opponent of the “peronist” ruling party), has had several losses in the last ballots. The leaders made an alliance with a progressive party (the socialists). SSM was offered as a part of the bargain by the leaders of UCR to the socialists. Even if the legislators of the party do not agree, the party pressures its legislators to vote accompanying our leading party (peronists)…. They betrayed the people literally in front of them, because the meeting took place during the march in the building of the Parliament.

    Tomorrow, apparently, the legislators who favor a civil union bill or reject ssm, have threatened not go to the premises (of the Parliament).”

    UPDATE: New development. Progressives are now floating the idea of abolishing marriage from the civil code and replacing it with the “egalitarian familial union.” Whatever happened to the fundamental right to marry?

    Reply
    • 69. Franck  |  July 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

      Aaaah yes, now they’re worried about that one fundamental right!

      – Franck P. Rabeson
      Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1118 days, as of today.

      Reply
    • 70. JonT  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      Yesterday, a massive demonstration protesting politicians’ plans to push SSM took place in Argentina

      Perhaps n0m didn’t realize that 70% of the population supports SSM, so ‘push‘ is a little strong? Oh wait, that’s one of those fact things they are so afraid of.

      I love the crowd counting: ‘The demonstration’s organizers counted 200,000; mainstream media originally reported 70,000, and are now whittling that down to 50,000.

      I agree with rf, faux must have been helping with the counting.

      Reply
  • 71. rf  |  July 14, 2010 at 9:23 am

    The demonstration’s organizers counted 200,000; mainstream media originally reported 70,000, and are now whittling that down to 50,000.

    Perhaps the organizers got foxnews to do the counting…

    Reply
  • 72. Bob  |  July 14, 2010 at 9:48 am

    was there a consensus, or understanding reached about the IRS ruling,,, could someone clarify? or are we just leaving that to figure out at tax time, I’m still confused , does it really have special implications only for California, and favour ss over os parnters? Probably just me, legal nitwit, can’t add , but just gotta comment. seems this post moved quickly to other topics.

    Reply
  • 73. alaneckert  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Just testing to see if my avatar is working.

    Reply
    • 74. alaneckert  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

      Not yet. Just need to wait it out I guess.

      Reply
      • 75. Richard A. Walter (soon to be Walter-Jernigan)  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:55 am

        I have seen it both times, Alan. I am wondering how to get into my P8TT account to update mine and have the avatar show.
        Robert Cruikshanks, can you help me with this?

        Reply
      • 76. alaneckert  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

        I can see it now. So tiny!

        Reply
      • 77. alaneckert  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm

        Richard, I just signed up with Gravatar using the email I use here. My link to the facebook page wasn’t there, so I’m testing now to see if the changes have been updated.

        Reply
  • 78. Richard A. Walter (soon to be Walter-Jernigan)  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks, Alan.

    Reply
  • 79. Bill  |  July 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    What happens depends upon how the community property state recognizes that partners/spouses incomes are handled. In California, the law allows each partner a share of the other’s income. This has been true for heterosexual couples for a long time. The only difference is that same sex couples can NOT file a married joint return. They must split their income/deductions and file SINGLE returns, using half of the couple’s income/deductions.

    California recognizes spousal claims, other community property states may not. Thus the ruling likely only applies to California. You would have to check to see the other community property states recognize same sex partnerships for tax purposes, and allow for a joint claim on the couples income or property.

    Whether single filers benefit compared to a couple is an issue for heterosexual couples. The tax law sometimes makes the married filing twice that of a single. sometimes it does not. This is referred to as the marriage penalty, and there are many discussions on tax forums about this issue.

    I assume that by default the IRS (or more likely Congress) expects Intuit/HRB or other software to become our main means of filing and meeting all the ins and outs of the tax code, that the software programs will be set up to handle the electronic filing for 2010 taxes.

    Reply
    • 80. alaneckert  |  July 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

      Is this retroactive for the 2009 claim, or only starting next tax season?

      Reply
  • 81. Bill  |  July 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    My comment relates to federal taxes since California allows a married tax filing for state income tax returns.

    Reply
  • 82. Bob  |  July 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks Bill, for further clarification re IRS ruling, much appreciated,

    Reply
  • 83. Phil  |  July 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    The PRIVATE letter ruling (PLR) discussed in the article does *not* apply to California, to community property jurisdictions, or to anyone at all, except for THE PETITIONERS WHO REQUESTED THE RULING. Technically, as noted, the PLR may *not* be cited as precedent, and may not be relied upon as a statement of official policy of the Internal Revenue Service.

    In practice (i.e., in reality), it does show that the IRS was willing to take this position in writing for at least one taxpayer, something it has never done before. The IRS might therefore be more open to accepting arguments based on the logic expressed in this PLR, in future cases.

    However, until the IRS issues a Revenue Rulng, or a Tax Court or District Court (or other federal court with the power to issue precedential authority) issues a written, published (in the legal sense) decision, there is no guarantee the IRS will stick to this line of reasoning in other cases. It could very well change its mind (especially depending on the outcome of other tax litigation currently pending). So, the arguments contained in the PLR might be referred to as “persuasive,” but they are “set” settled or “precedent.” Rely on these arguments at your own risk; do *not* cite the PLR by name/number.

    Most importantly, if you have important issues similar to those discussed in the PLR, consult an experienced and competent tax attorney (do not just rely on an accountant–this will most likely be over the heads of 99% of accountants).

    Reply
  • 84. Bob  |  July 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    now we’re getting there, (this will most likely be over the heads of 99% of accountants) this is one of those cases where I don’t have to know what I don’t know,

    our Canadian tax laws can be just as confusing

    Reply

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