Filing Jointly? 3 Tax Considerations for Same-Sex Spouses

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT in June ruled the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by two clauses in the 14th Amendment, a decision that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the nation.

For Andrew Walters, that meant he and his spouse, whom he married in San Francisco in 2013, are now legally married in their home state of Texas.

Before the high court’s ruling, Walters, a USAA senior credit risk analyst, and many in the LGBT community lived in a sort of legal limbo, where their marriages were recognized in some states but not the state where they actually resided.

“For our marriage, it validates that we finally have equal legal recognition under the law,” Walters says. “It feels good that you don’t have to double check everything to make sure you have your medical powers of attorney and other legal protections.”

The ruling also means many same-sex couples will be filing their income taxes as married couples for the first time this year.

“The Supreme Court ruling really simplified things,” says Bob Meighan, vice president of customer advocacy at Turbo Tax, USAA’s collaborator in helping members with taxes. “If you’re in a same-sex marriage, it’s clear: You file married. But you do have the option of married filing jointly or married filing individually.”

In the vast majority of cases, it benefits the married couple to file taxes jointly, Meighan says. There are a number of deductions and credits that might not be available if you file separately.

Another potential financial advantage to know about: Couples who were legally married prior to the 2013 filing year also can file an amended return this year reflecting their married status in 2012. This is the last year couples are eligible to amend the 2013 return for the 2012 tax year. Returns filed in 2014 and 2015 (for the 2013 and 2014 tax years) can also be amended.

But if you’re not sure whether filing jointly or individually this year would be best for you, TurboTax offers several online tools to help, including TaxCaster, which allows you to quickly determine your tax liability both ways.

For other tips on filing your 2015 tax returns, visit USAA’s Tax Center.



Views and opinions expressed by members are for informational purposes only and should not be deemed as an endorsement by USAA.

The contents of this document are not intended to be, and are not, legal or tax advice. The applicable tax law is complex, the penalties for non-compliance are severe, and the applicable tax law of your state may differ from federal tax law.  Therefore, you should consult your tax and legal advisers regarding your specific situation.

Intuit, TurboTax, and TurboTax Online, among others are registered trademarks and/or service marks of Intuit Inc. in the United States and other countries, and are used with permission.

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