Individual Income Tax Insights: Some States Still Disallowing Joint Returns by Same-Sex Married Couples

Not all married, same-sex taxpayers will be able to file joint state returns for the 2014 tax year, leaving them restricted to filing separately or unsure as to their appropriate filing status.

Throughout 2014, there have been significant developments with regard to state recognition of same-sex marriage for tax purposes. Fourteen states began allowing married, same-sex taxpayers to file a joint state return, often requiring that they match their filing status to their federal return.

This seemingly steady increase in recognition of same-sex marriage, however, has not been consistent. On Nov. 6, the Sixth Circuit, in DeBoer v. Snyder, upheld the ban on same-sex marriages in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Further, this ruling upheld the states’ authority to refuse to officially recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states; thus, denying married, same-sex taxpayers the ability to file a joint state return. The United States Supreme Court will consider its acceptance of this case for certiorari during the Jan. 9, 2015, conference.

On Nov. 19, in direct contrast to the Sixth Circuit yet closer in line with similarly situated states in the Ninth Circuit, Rolando v. Fox overturned Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage, making it the 35th state to recognize same-sex marriage. On Dec. 15, the Montana Department of Revenue issued a list of frequently asked questions about how married, same-sex taxpayers should file their returns based on the Rolando ruling.

Married, same-sex taxpayers are not permitted to file a joint return for the 2014 tax year in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
It is unclear how these states will treat same-sex married couples in 2015. The jurisdictions banning same-sex marriage could either completely uplift the bans, choose to recognize same-sex marriage for state tax purposes only, or, simply put, do nothing at all.

For up-to-date information about same-sex marriage, check out Bloomberg BNA’s Individual Income Tax Navigator by signing up for a free trial of the Bloomberg BNA Premier State Tax Library today.