WHETHER TO WED: A Legal And Tax Guide For Gay And Lesbian Couples
FOR SAME SEX COUPLES, IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS SAYING, “I DO” Attorney Scott Squillace Discusses The Legal And Tax Issues Faced By Gay And Lesbian Couples
Posted Sunday, January 26, 2014, 03:19PM
For same-sex couples, the decision to marry is not as simple as saying, “I do.” Complex issues due to recent court and legislative actions, which affect couples in some states differently than those in other states, have created a complex web of legal and tax issues for same-sex couples. WHETHER TO WED: A Legal And Tax Guide For Gay And Lesbian Couples, by Scott Squillace, Esq., provides an in-depth look at the legal and tax consequences of marriage, and is an invaluable tool with practical suggestions for both married couples and those contemplating marriage.
The Supreme Court’s decision on June 26, 2013, striking down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), opened the floodgates for federal rights and benefits to flow to legally married same-sex couples across the country.
Perhaps some of the biggest news to come out of the Supreme Court’s decision, and the federal regulations that followed, is that a couple from a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage can now travel to a recognition state, get married, and return home with many of the same federal benefits available to opposite-sex marriage partners. But laws still differ from state to state and the federal government is still sorting out details so issues can arise for these couples.
The Pros of Getting Married
· Income Tax: By filing a joint tax return, married couples whose incomes are different may be eligible for a lower tax rate, known as the “marriage bonus.” Refunds may now be available for already married same-sex couples who paid too much over the past three years.
· Estate Tax: States that have an estate tax and that recognize same-sex marriages allow an unlimited marital deduction for a surviving spouse. The federal government now also recognizes the marital deduction – so no estate tax will be due for a surviving spouse.
· Social Security: Same-sex couples are eligible for Social Security spousal benefits at retirement, when disabled, or at one spouse’s death, as long as they reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.
· Private Pension/Retirement Benefits: Following the Supreme Court decision, the Department of Labor stated that the term “spouse,” when pertaining to employee benefit plans, shall include same-sex spouses, even if the employee resides in a state that does not recognize the marriage.
The Cons of Getting Married
· Income Tax: Married couples whose incomes are both high may be subject to higher income tax rates and fewer deductions since they will now be required to file as “married” – known as the “marriage penalty.”
· Medicaid: Since the assets and income of both spouses are considered for determining eligibility, being married can be a handicap if one spouse has income and assets that cause the couple to be above the eligibility limits. This can affect eligibility for nursing home care.
· Divorce: If a married couple lives in a non-recognition state, even if lawfully married in a recognition state, divorce can be tricky, or even impossible.
WHETHER TO WED helps readers understand some of the intricacies same-sex couples face such as moving from a state that recognizes their marriage to one that does not and provides practical advice on how to evaluate these issues.
Scott Squillace has created an important resource for any same-sex couple contemplating marriage, as well as clergy, tax, legal, accounting, investment, financial planning, and other professionals. The book will spark discussions among couples about the issues they need to consider when deciding whether to wed.
About the Author
Scott Squillace, Esq., is the principal and founder of Squillace & Associates, P.C. He has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C., and has been admitted to the Bar in Paris, France as an Avocat. Squillace is focused on Life & Estate Planning matters for individuals and families. He has developed an extensive practice focusing on the needs of same-sex couples and the LGBT community. Squillace lives in Charlestown, MA.
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