Of allergies, taxes and free lunches

marriage.jpgMarch is usually the month that causes me to cough and sneeze as if it is the end of the world. I am allergic to almost anything natural around here. So, when springtime shows up, my whole body becomes an anti-body to anything that touches it. I have been sneezing constantly. Medication helps, but makes me behave like an alien from planet tomorrow.

March is also the month when I start preparing all the information to do my duty as a law abiding taxpayer. This year is the first year when both my domestic partner and I have to report California income taxes as if we were actually married. Of course, my other half ignores my advice and goes ahead and files his California taxes with the wrong tax status, as a single taxpayer. So, we have to amend his tax forms. It is kind of strange filling amended tax returns when I have not actually filed mine yet.

It is a strange world where I live. The United States is basically a huge country where different parts may have totally different customs. Although there is a whole set of federal laws that binds us together, local and state statutes separate us. This is exemplified by the current tax laws. California decided that registered domestic partners will be treated as married couples for California income tax purposes. As everyone knows, the federal government does not recognize registered domestic partners. So, we now end up with this strange hybrid situation: We have to continue filing as single taxpayers, for federal income tax purposes, while for California purposes we are required to file as married.

Previously, I did not pay much attention to the legal benefits and liabilities of being a married couple, because California domestic partnership statutes mainly dealt with family law issues. But now that California basically states that registered domestic partners are married couples for tax purposes, the whole mantra of community property issues kick in. From my own perspective, that is a step forward. If we want the benefits of marriage, we should also take on the liabilities. I doubt whether a lot of gay couples thought this through before signing the domestic partnership registry. For all practical purposes, everything earned during the partnership is now considered community property. Maybe I should specialize in family law – I can see now messy court fights when domestic partners separate.

Oh, and who said that there is no free lunch? I discovered that I am saving more taxes by filing this hybrid way.

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