Individual Tax Insights: High Court to Consider Hearing Constitutional Challenges Against Same-Sex Marriage Bans


Windsor solved some of the disparity same-sex married couples face with taxes at the federal level, particularly with joint tax filings and the federal estate tax. But problems remain for same-sex couples, and the U.S. Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear additional constitutional challenges regarding their disparate treatment.  Some social security benefits, for example, are tied into the state definition of marriage and are thus unavailable to married same-sex couples.

And differential treatment also exists at the state level.  For instance, although Wisconsin recognizes domestic partnerships, same-sex couples are still excluded from some benefits, including the married persons credit and several deductions specific to married opposite-sex couples.  Additionally, married same-sex couples are often forced to file state returns as if they were single individuals, even if they filed a joint federal return. For a chart on the various state income tax filing requirements for same-sex couples, see http://www.bna.com/state-income-tax-m17179881161/.

The debate on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans continues.  In the past three weeks, the Seventh Circuit heard oral argument in cases from Indiana and Wisconsin (Baskin v. Bogan and Wolf v. Walker, 8/26/14) and the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument in cases from Idaho and Nevada (Latta v. Otter and Sevcik v. Sandoval, 9/8/14). The Seventh Circuit has since issued its decision (9/4/14) invalidating Wisconsin’s and Indiana’s same-sex marriage bans; a decision from the Ninth Circuit is still pending. Indiana and Wisconsin promptly filed petitions for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court (Nos. 14-277, 14-278, cert. petition filed 9/9/14).  

Additionally, an amici curiaebrief was filed by 32 states on September 4th in the previously filed appeals from the Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia marriage cases urging the U.S. Supreme Court to provide a final resolution to the same-sex marriage issue in the upcoming term.

All of the same-sex marriage cases appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court are currently listed for consideration at the Court’s September 29th conference.  

*Continue the discussion on Bloomberg BNA's State Tax Group on LinkedIn: What will SCOTUS do?  

For more 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.  

By: William Olver  

Follow BBNA on Twitter at: @BBNATax.