Monday, April 13, 2009

What I learned about our taxes this year: scenes from a queer couple

i love summer
The moment really should have been a sweet one. For the first time in our 14-year relationship, my partner and I were signing tax forms together.

. (Cue the birds chirping.)

And who would ever think taxes could be a sweet moment for a couple? But for us? And for many same-sex couples, the drama of taxes and their on-going inequity are painful reminders of our relationships being deemed invisible by the very government we pay taxes to.

But not this year. In 2008, we were able to register as Domestic Partners. (Doesn’t that sound romantic? Domestic Partners. Don’t be jealous.)

When it came time to trot in to our tax preparer, we were sure it would be interesting. The State of Oregon would recognize us as a couple, and even Linda, our tax preparer, was excited to do our taxes this year. We’re always a good challenge for her: from being married in 2004, to not being married thanks to Oregon’s Measure 36, to doing our taxes independently every year over the years, this year it would be different. It even required two visits because the paperwork was complex.

Linda ran our taxes both ways so that we could see the difference. One was if the federal government recognized our relationship as a married couple (it doesn't). That showed we’d get a nice check back from the feds. But the second, and the final was with the state recognizing our relationship, but the federal government not recognizing us as married (remember DOMA, or Defense of Marriage Act, ensures this), we owed the feds.

In the end? The financial impact was $1,800.

So that, my friends, is the financial difference in taxes, that it costs us this year. And don’t get me started on all of the other inequities. Because this one is clear as day and I have a number for it. $1,800. And the only thing I have in response this point in time are the wonderful words of Kathy Griffin:

"Suck it."


Anonymous said...

My partner and I did our taxes yesterday and the discrepancy in federal taxes was well over $2000. Not in our favor. That's not counting the federal taxes we have to pay on her health benefits from my employer.

I would love to know what the total costs are to Oregon domestic-partnered couples. Seeing it laid out like that is maddening but (I hope) galvanizing!

Gardengrrrl said...

That sucks! You are a very cute couple though. :) What would happen if you just filed as married? Could that be a mode of protest? My husband and I filed married before we really were because we figured that we were common law married. Oregon isn't a common law state is it?

Desert Diva said...

Wow, congrats on fourteen years together - you are such a cute couple.

I'm sorry that you both were "stung" with paying the government because of your relationship.

However, it's just money (albeit a lot) and just take solace in your love for each other. Some things money can't buy...

Landlady of Fat said...

Don't even get me started... I had to do 3 different tax forms -- one federal, state both ways to see what was better (CT has civil unions until the marriage law goes into effect next year).


So unconstitutional it's laughable.

A Lewis said...

Ours was such a happy and disjointed affair that we have had to file amended returns -- that will take Until approximately the end of May to finish! Lovely, isn't it??

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. I happened upon here through a Twitter link of all ways. It's good to hear/read about someone's actual experience.

I think it's wrong anyway you slice it!

Marriage should not be discriminatory... how can it be. Let people just get married, damn it and leave them the f*ck alone!

I'm hoping our world changes more rapidly than it is. It sucks really being in the dark ages with some things.

All the best to you. You truly are a very cute couple and congrats on the 14 years... societies "conventional" marriages barely last that long.


Marshall Collins said...

I do my partner's and my taxes and have for the last 6 years. Getting to spend an extra couple of hours to do all the "dummie" federal returns so I could figure out the best route for us to go on our state returns was a HUGE hassle but I still refuse to pay someone to file standard deduction tax forms for us. In the end our not federally recognized DP is going to cost us just over $1000. Would have been more but we found that we saved money by filing "RDP but filing separately"

Wacky Mommy said...


Heather said...

Yes, that sucks. Nothing else to say.

Recovering Straight Girl said...

Our accountant still hasn't returned ours so we don't know the damage. The only benefit we have is that I did a small amount of freelance last year and HG can claim the kid and all of the house interest. I still have to pay $750. in federal tax but we're hoping HG gets a refund enough to make up for it.

Don't get me started on the health benefit thing--HG's income amount stated on her W-2 was $10,000 more than what she made because of the estimated cost of benefits.

So unfair. So totally unfair.

Kari Chisholm said...

Dear right-wing anti-tax absolutists:

Cut taxes! Legalize gay marriage!


(Maybe that'll work, LeLo. Great post.)

jrad said...

Having gotten divorced not too long ago, I really wonder why there should be a tax incentive to marry, whether it's a gay or a straight marriage.

Eugenia said...

But just think, you're helping the war effort! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Anonymous said...

At least the tide seems to be turning the right way. And you guys are so adorable together!

Ali and Evan said...

Congratulations on 14 years. Thank you for shedding light on this and so many other important issues on your blog, like you always do. As usual: inspiring.

dig this chick said...

Oh holy shit. First, you chickens are super cute. Second, must have been a great thing to share that document. Third, I hope that when bug is my age, she and her pals sit around and say, Can you believe that when my mom was my age, her gay friends couldn't marry?Like we talk about the inequity of our grandmas not being able to vote and segregation....

And, lastly, I love your city! I totally went to that cute little nursery on Mississippi you recommended. Thanks! We bought a mat for our back door made out of recycled tires and saw a chick so new he still had egg shell on his back!