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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.

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— 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.

Comments

Arnie Bunkers 11 months, 4 weeks ago

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

M. Lindeman 11 months, 4 weeks ago

They are not legally married in the state of Kansas.

Seth Peterson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Legally they are married, Kansas just doesn't recognize it.

Renee Sanford 11 months, 4 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!

M. Lindeman 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Please, what's so courageous? A fireman running into a burning building to save a life is courageous.

Renee Sanford 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Courageous is standing up for what you believe in, in the face of adversity. Courageous is putting your name, your residence, your personal relationship into the public record to fight for what's just and what's right. That takes courage & courage comes in many different forms.

(I don't know your gender or orientation, so I'm trying to be as neutral as possible. With the assumption that you are most probably straight) But Mr/Ms Lindeman, if you were to get married in say, Hawaii and came back to Kansas, you would still be married, right? Or if you got married in another country and came back. You'd still be married, right? Why should it be any different for these and hundreds of thousands of other couples?

M. Lindeman 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Sorry but I disagree with you on your definition of courageous.

Tell yourself what you want, but if you live in a state that does not recognize gay marriage and take a trip to a state that does with the intent to marry there, you should not be surprised that nothing has changed when you return.

Jason Bowers-Chaika 11 months, 4 weeks ago

I was born and raised in this fine state of Kansas. I fought publicly and courageously against the unconstitutional ban on marriage equality in 2005. I have continued to courageously fought for equal treatment under the law for all Kansans. Apparently, M. Lindeman you feel that if one knows that they live in a hostile environment and don't keep their head down in fear they have now right to call themselves or others who do the same courageous. I would like to see how courageous you would be stating your views in the middle of of the Castro in San Francisco. The couple who have filed suit to correct an injustice and end a discriminatory policy are courageous because they are now in the public eye and will face the slings and arrows of those good "Christians" who hate them.

M. Lindeman 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Nice of you to throw the 'hate' word out, I not sure how you come up with that but I guess it just easier to name call. As for stating my views, I wouldn't have an issue speaking my mind anywhere, even in the castro district of San Fran. Lets be honest, I only see the slings and arrows coming from those on your side. Good day Sir.

Rae Hudspeth 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Of course you would feel comfortable speaking your mind anywhere, you enjoy what is referred to as "privilege". If you'd like to understand why taking a stand for other people might be courageous, I offer this article. It might help to see how your experience is much easier. Thanks. http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/01/29-examples-of-heterosexual-privilege/

Seth Peterson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Curagous: Having or characterized by courage; valiant.

It's not that you disagree on the definition, it's that you don't understand it.

Matthew Herbert 11 months, 4 weeks ago

If you are unable or more likely unwilling to understand why this is a courageous act, you are part of the problem. I suppose you would also suggest that Rosa Parks wasn't courageous, because, ' geez what's so courageous about sitting on a bus?'. The fact that in 2014 we are still fighting about this is unbelievable. I am still waiting to hear one single, meaningful argument explaining how two people whom I don't know and will most likely never meet can affect my life in any way by having been given the right to marry. I tend to be Conservative; I believe in smaller government where the government (federal, state or local) does not intervene in matters it should stay out of (such as anyone's choice of who to spend their life with) and for that reason I fully support marriage equality.

Renee Sanford 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Keith,

It's courageous because there are places in this state & country where you can lose your job, you can be evicted from your residence for being gay. We have a bit of protection here in Lawrence by way of a city ordinance protecting folks here. But the same can not be said in other parts of this state. So yes, putting your livelihood on the line and opening yourself up to possible property crimes (because your home address is now a part of the public record) by filing a lawsuit such as this is courageous. The Rosa Parks analogy, I believe is accurate.

The threat of real violence is there. It happens. It's happened to me. The threat of violence is always there when I walk down the street holding my partner's hand. When she kisses me quickly and rather chastely in public. When I say I love you to her in public. The possibility of a violent reaction from someone who sees that is always present.

So yes, these two couples are courageous. If you've never been on the receiving end of hurtful, disrespectful &/or violent words and actions based solely on the gender of the person you love, count yourself very lucky or realize that you enjoy privilege and never have to worry about that.

Respectfully, Renee

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/courage cour·age noun ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij : the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous

11 months, 4 weeks ago

It seems likely you've never been discriminated against simply for being who you are. I'm blaming a lack of imagination for your inability to grasp the concept of courage as it is displayed in this case.

Joshua Cain 11 months, 4 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: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/292/urge-states-to-treat-same-sex-couples-with-full-eq/

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. ...

Cait McKnelly 11 months, 4 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 Montgomery 11 months, 4 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.

Julius Nolan 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Joshua, never thought I would agree with you on anything, but on this i do. Kansas and the USA needs people with this kind of courage.

Kyle Neuer 11 months, 4 weeks ago

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

Fred Whitehead Jr. 11 months, 4 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.

Richard Heckler 11 months, 4 weeks ago

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

Betty Bartholomew 11 months, 3 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.

Chris Golledge 11 months, 3 weeks ago

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

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