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Joint tax filings denied for same-sex couples in Utah

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Posted at 1:31 PM, Oct 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-11 15:31:18-04

The Utah Tax Commission released a statement Wednesday announcing that same-sex couples will not be allowed to file joint state income tax returns.

In August the IRS ruled that same-sex couples can file joint federal tax returns regardless of whether or not they live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages. At that time, the Utah Tax Commission gave gay rights advocates the impression that they would follow suit.

The Utah Tax Commission clarified its position Wednesday, saying same-sex married couples will have to file state taxes as individuals. Government leaders point to the state constitution as the basis of their decision, which states that joint filing applies to a husband and wife.

"We're following the law," said Charlie Roberts, Utah Tax Commission spokesman. "It's very clear on defining what a married couple is."

Gay rights advocates said the decision is unfair, and it places a heavy burden on same-sex married couples.

"Our tax system in Utah is based on federal filing, but if they can't file jointly in Utah that means they have to make a second fake federal return as if they're not married and then use that to calculate their Utah income taxes," said University of Utah Law Professor and Equality Utah board member Clifford Rosky. "As a practical matter, it really means that gay married couples are going to have to hire a professional accountant and pay hundreds if not more than a thousand dollars to get this kind of thing resolved."

The Utah Tax Commission admits they did not put this issue to a vote, but the commission may open the issue up to the public.