Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Same-sex married couples file lawsuit against state over tax treatment

December 31, 2013, 1:19 p.m. Updated December 31, 2013, 3:38 p.m.


Related document

Gay marriage lawsuit against state ( .PDF )

— Two legally married same-sex couples, including one in Lawrence, have filed a lawsuit against the Kansas Department of Revenue, which won’t allow them to file as married on their state taxes.

“My clients are asking the court to order the Department of Revenue to follow the law,” said David J. Brown, the Lawrence attorney who filed the lawsuit in state district court in Shawnee County. The Revenue Department says it is following the law.

Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it will recognize all legally performed marriages for federal tax purposes even if the taxpayers live in a state, such as Kansas, where their marriages aren’t recognized.

Under the IRS rules, all legally married same-sex couples must file tax returns as “married.”

But because of the constitutional ban against same-sex marriage in Kansas, the state Revenue Department has established regulations requiring same-sex couples to file as single persons and say they are not married.

In implementing the regulations, the plaintiffs say that the state failed to follow statutory requirements for adopting the new rules. And they say that if they can’t use their “married” status they believe they would be filing a fraudulent tax return and be committing a felony. It also puts them in a position of having a “second-tier” marriage, which is demeaning, they argue.

In addition, the state agency is requiring same-sex couples who file as married for federal tax purposes to complete separate worksheets and file separate Kansas returns using the filing status of single, or head of household. This will require additional accounting expenses that opposite-sex married couples will not have to pay, they say.

Ultimately, the plaintiffs say, the Revenue Department rules are denying the state additional taxes that they would have to pay as married persons.

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the Revenue Department to allow the couples to file joint income tax returns as married.

The plaintiffs in the case are Roberta and Julia Woodrick of Lawrence, and Michael Nelson and Charles Dedmon of Alma. Both couples were legally married in California. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia permit gay marriage.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that legal marriages of same-sex couples must be recognized by the federal government, including couples who live in states that ban gay marriage.

But the decision left it up to states on how to treat same-sex couples on state taxes.

The state Revenue Department said the approach it has put in place is recommended by the Federation of Tax Administrators, adheres to the Kansas Constitution’s definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, and complies with the Supreme Court’s decision.

Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said the state regulations unfairly treated same-sex couples differently.

“By requiring legally married same-sex couples to file additional tax forms and say they are not married on those tax forms, Kansas is penalizing and stigmatizing gay and lesbian Kansans,” Witt said.

— Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild can be reached at 785-423-0668.


Chris Golledge 3 months, 1 week ago

This is treating people differently based on their gender. I thought we were past that.


Betty Bartholomew 3 months, 2 weeks ago

If state taxes didn't rely on federal taxes to be done, this would be a non-issue. But since they do, and the SCOTUS didn't direct how to handle the dichotomy they created when they essentially went "states rights" on the matter, it will be awesome to watch the non-recognition states collapse like a balloon on it because: Taxes. Just goes to show it always comes down to money.


Richard Heckler 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Federation of Tax Administrators smells a bit like an ALEC website....... at least for the moment.


Ray Parker 3 months, 2 weeks ago

This is Kansas, not Californicatia. Federal, state, and local governments have very good reasons for discouraging the practice of sodomy. The government’s own statistics affirm that sodomites are responsible for an enormously disproportionate share of health care costs, which now will be placed on the backs of healthy citizens under the Marxist medical takeover. Sodomites inflict on their victims, at a very high rate, HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, mental illness and suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction and substance abuse. 63% of HIV/AIDS infections are caused by the 2% of the population that are homosexual men. The estimated annual cost of HIV treatment in 2014 is $30,000, with a lifetime HIV treatment cost of $450,000.


Kaposi by parkay


Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I too went to congratulate the plaintiffs for this courageous effort.

As long as religious bigots continue to hold sway in Kansas and hold to the spurious notion that gay people "choose" this lifestyle and are "sinners" , Kansas will continue to swim upstream against the tide of equat rights for all citizens. The choice of idiologues like Brownback and a good portion of the Kansas legislators gives notice that this fraululant stance will remain in "bleeding" Kansas for years to come.


Kyle Neuer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

More tax dollars wasted defending the indefensible. Heck of a job, Brownie.


Joshua Montgomery 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I'd like to congratulate the plaintiffs on having the courage to stand up for equality.

Regardless of the outcome, they will be able to live out their lives confident that they stood up for justice.

Mr. Brownback and the others opposed to same sex marriage will inevitably be banished to the dustbin of history along with bigots like George Wallace, Sam Bowers and Bull Connor.


Cait McKnelly 3 months, 2 weeks ago

My sister is a registered and certified tax preparer in the state of Arkansas. One of her long time clients was recently married to his same sex partner in California and they plan to file a joint return. There's just one problem; Arkansas doesn't recognize same sex marriage. They can, indeed, file a joint return at the Federal level but can't at the state level. However, the state tax form uses the Federal form to calculate the state's taxes. It's a headache and a half.


Joshua Myers 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's a constitutional matter really. It surprises me that the President doesn't make it a federal matter. Despite, traditionally, marriage being a state function it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all citizens have equal treatment under the law when the states violate a constitutional right to equal treatment by the state/government. Integration of public schools comes to mind. It really is that simple. It's a shame the president doesn't put his money where his mouth is... given the LGBT vote support he received in both elections.

Politifact agrees:

Key quote re: the legality.

"I support ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country. I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples. ...


Renee Sanford 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I'll be watching closely to see how this turns out as it will affect me personally in 2015. Proud of these two couples for being courageous and for fighting for equality!


Stacy Napier 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's called states rights. Each state can tax the way they see fit. If you don't like it move to a different state.

A big thanks to the 4 people that will cost the tax payers several thousand in lawyer fees to have something they fits them.


Arnie Bunkers 3 months, 2 weeks ago

if they are legally married, they should get the same treatment as everyone else


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