Taxes

Ah yes, it is tax time.  It’s a sign of my nerdiness that I really like doing my taxes, and of course it doesn’t hurt that I usually get a pretty good refund.  Once again though my joy is tinged with injustice as this is one more thing where it costs to be gay.  If you’ve followed the national debate over same-sex marriage – which you probably have if you’re reading this – then you know that same-sex couples cannot file their taxes jointly, and we’re not happy about that.  I wasn’t able to find a solid number for how much this costs the typical gay couple, but this article in the Wall Street Journal describes some of the issues.  One thing is that it is so much more complicated.  Since we have to file separately, we have to figure out how to divvy up joint assets like houses.

 

DiversifyYourTaxesImage

Since we’re a young couple without kids, H and I have a fairly simple tax situation.  The house is in my name (since I bought it before we met) and other than that it is pretty standard.  This year I filed our taxes separately as usual, then with the help of TurboTax – the tax preparation software I use and highly recommend – I calculated what our taxes would have been if we’d be able to file jointly.  The good news is that we didn’t suffer a penalty.  Had we been allowed to file as a married couple, we still would have been better off to file separately.  Obviously we would have preferred that option, but its good to know that for this year at least we weren’t penalized.

I calculated H’s taxes first, because it takes a little longer for me to get all my tax documents in.  With interest on her student loans as the only major deduction, H claims the standard deduction.  She ended up with a $717 federal and $94 state refund.  We’ve already spent that 🙂  For my taxes I am able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes, along with charitable donations, job expenses, and tuition from my last semester of grad school last spring, so I itemize.  All of this added up to a federal refund of $3064 and state refund of $468.  As I said, I like doing taxes.  Now for the good part.  I added H’s income and deductions to my tax calculations and changed my filing status to married joint, and TurboTax figured out how much we would have been refunded if we filed that way.  The result was a refund of $3275 federal and $325 joint – $743 less than filing separate.  So take that haters!

And finally, it didn’t even cost us more to prepare the taxes, since I used TurboTax’s free version to prepare and file H’s taxes.  So this time, at least, the injustice was symbolic rather than monetary.  It burns that I have to mark myself as “Single” when I’m not, but it does not end up costing me more money.

Cost:

  • Combined tax refund: $4343
  • Tax preparation fees: $39.99
  • Time: 3 hours

Cost if we were straight:

  • Tax refund married, filing joint: $3600
  • Tax refund married, filing separate: $4343
  • Tax preparation fees: $39.99
  • Time: 4-5 hours, given all the calculation

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