Agency says same-sex couples not allowed to file joint tax retur - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Agency says same-sex couples not allowed to file joint tax returns in SC

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The South Carolina Department of Revenue is requiring same-sex couples to file as "single" for state tax purposes, according to a ruling this week for this year's tax session.

Following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act last June, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS announced in September that all legal same-sex marriages will be recognized for Federal tax purposes.

The ruling applied whether the couple lives in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage or a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, such as in South Carolina.

While the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal government cannot refuse to respect the marriages of married same-sex couples, the State of South Carolina refuses to recognize the civil marriages because of a state constitutional amendment and because of that, they cannot legally allow couples to file joint returns, said Ryan Wilson, executive director of SC Equality.

"Since the amendment in South Carolina was passed in 2006 that banned same-sex marriages we have come a long way," said SC Equality board member Malissa Burnette.  "That is seven years, almost eight years ago. I think people are beginning to accept that they have relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and people, I think, are going to accept that. It is a different South Carolina. I think we're ready."

This ruling could create undue hardship on legally married same-sex taxpayers in South Carolina, making it more time consuming to prepare their returns and more costly if they use a paid tax preparer, Wilson said. 

Paper filing is now required which will slow down refunds to taxpayers.

To file the way the state is requiring will create more work on the department of revenue and could strain the state budget, because the Federal return as filed with the Department of Treasury will not match the Federal return as filed with the DOR.

The IRS most likely will flag all returns that do not match for automatic audit. This will also make the return more difficult to audit and require manual processing of the return. Should a return need to be amended at a later, multiple returns will again have to be prepared.

"Through SCDOR's ruling, South Carolina is forcing all legally married same-sex couples to lie on their tax forms," Wilson said. "It is like asking us to take off our wedding rings and pretend just this once, that we are not actually married and ignore our legally binding commit to the person we love, as least for tax purposes. This separate and unequal system for same-sex couples will cost the State of South Carolina tax payers thousands of dollars to process all these additional paper returns and when the IRS flags these returns for audit, will cause an administrative nightmare for SCDOR, something for which our state budget is not currently prepared to pay."

In response, SC Equality says this separate treatment for same-sex couples is unequal and unfair. Since SCDOR won't change their policy because of the laws, now we must work to change the law so that all legally married couples will be treated equally.

In response, SC Equality is calling upon the legislature to pass the bill H.4461 that Representative Todd Rutherford introduced which would allow all legally married couples in our state be treated equally for tax purposes.

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