First comes love, then comes marriage ... then comes the potential savings of a joint tax return. That’s the story for opposite-sex couples, but not necessarily for same-sex couples.
Gay couples aren’t entitled to some of the money-saving benefits available to opposite-sex married couples. But how much lost money is it for a gay couple?
Equality Florida, a group that advocates on behalf of the gay community, raised that topic as the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases related to gay marriage in March: a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. (For more on the cases read PolitiFact’s primer.)
The DOMA case stems from a financial issue involving Edith "Edie" Windsor, who lived withThea Spyer for 44 years; they married in Canada in 2007. After Spyer’s death in 2009, Windsor had to pay $363,000 in taxes on her spouse’s estate rather than inheriting it outright, as mixed-gender married couples routinely do.
Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, wrote in a press release on March 27 that she was hopeful the Supreme Court would move to end the federal ban on same-sex marriage:
"If observers are correct, gay married couples including my wife and I will not be faced with tax forms that require us to lie and deny the existence of our spouse. The financial penalties imposed because we are considered legal strangers can cost us more than $300,000 compared with married heterosexual couples over a lifetime. In a stroke, this financial burden will be erased."
PolitiFact researched how Smith concluded that gay couples can pay $300,000 more than heterosexual couples over a lifetime.