The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling required federal recognition of state-sanctioned, same-sex marriages. Yet, states who don’t allow the nuptials are faced with having to answer questions about tax filings.
South Carolina’s tax agency issued a draft ruling this month that says legally married same-sex couples will have to file as single in the state, even while filing as married with the federal government. A definitive policy is expected in the coming weeks from S.C. Department of Revenue’s director.
Last week, LGBT advocates pushed against the proposed policy, saying that South Carolina law requires the same filing as a federal tax return. And since the couples — married in one of 17 states that allows the practice — would submit their forms as married filing jointly or married filing separately, the state would be in contradiction to its own law, they claim.
But that argument isn’t valid, according to one of the state’s top tax lawyers, Adam Landy of the McNair Law Firm. Landy spoke Saturday at an S.C. Bar Association event on the topic.
SCDOR made the proposed ruling based on South Carolina’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“(The law says) a husband and wife must file their returns the same way they file for federal income tax purposes,” Landy said. “South Carolina does not allow those individuals to be married nor will we recognize same sex marriage.”
Minority House Leader Rep. Todd Rutherford proposed a bill earlier this month to bring a referendum to S.C. voters to change the state’s law dealing with marriage. H.4461 would ask voters to either uphold existing law or delete language that would require marriage to be between one man and one woman. The bill is in the House’s Committee on Judiciary.
S.C. Equality is the LGBT organization leading the charge against the tax agency’s proposed policy. Its executive director and four other LGBT advocates met with SCDOR officials Wednesday of last week, hoping to change the draft before its finalized. Ryan Wilson said that if the policy goes into effect, there would be “tangible” losses incurred by same-sex couples due to needing a tax preparer to navigate all the paperwork. He warned that could result in a lawsuit against the state.