US Supreme Court DOMA Throw Down - Progress or Kabuki Theater? - John R. Dundon II, Enrolled Agent
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US Supreme Court DOMA Throw Down – Progress or Kabuki Theater?

US Supreme Court DOMA Throw Down – Progress or Kabuki Theater?

The fact of the matter is that the IRS will continue to define marriage for US Taxpayers everywhere in that only one man and one woman married to each other can file an income tax return with the filing status of married/joint. This filing status, looked upon by the Service as one taxpaying unit is entitled to substantial tax benefits over and above all other filing statuses be it Single, Head of Household, Married/separate, or Widow. So from an income tax perspective today’s supreme court decision is really in my opinion little more than kabuki theater.

If you check out the IRS’ Interactive Tax Assistant to determine your filing status you will find it to be incredibly disingenuous if not unilaterally misleading as the Instructions for the 2012 IRS Form 1040 Income Tax Return clearly state under under filing status the following.

“For federal tax purposes a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” means a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” 

In my own humble opinion until you can check the box Married/Joint on an income tax return (box #2 under filing status) you are unfortunately NOT married for federal income tax purposes regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision today and I find it impossible at this time or any time in the near future that the IRS will be compelled to change their definition of the Married Filing Joint (MFJ) filing status.

A husband and wife filing jointly report their combined income and deduct their combined allowable expenses on one return. They can file a joint return even if only one had income or if they did not live together all year. However, both persons must sign the return. Once you file a joint return, you cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return.

There are of course some pitfalls to the Married Filing Joint (MFJ) filing status. If you file a joint return, both you and your spouse are generally responsible for the tax and interest or penalties due on the return. This means that if one spouse does not pay the tax due, the other may have to. Or, if one spouse does not report the correct tax, both spouses may be responsible for any additional taxes assessed by the IRS.