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Gay Tax

04/17/08 5:55PM By Jason Lorber
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(HOST) Commentator Jason Lorber is a state legislator who takes his tax obligations seriously. But he's also a stand-up comedian, who can't help pointing out one especially absurd part of the filing process.

(LORBER) Like many Americans, I have a troubling relationship. Mine is with a man named Walter. You see, Nat, who's my spouse, and I are gay. And Walter is our tax man.

See, when Nat and I got married, the federal government ignored our ceremony. To them, we're still single. Never mind that 175 of our closest friends and relatives and their kids watched us exchange solemn vows in front of our rabbi.

The Federal Government - and therefore the IRS - doesn't recognize our marriage, or even our "civil union." They probably consider us to be friends - possibly very good friends - but not the kind of people who get the special tax treatment that married couples get.

Married couples fill out their tax returns as if they were married couples, because - well - they *are* married couples. But the IRS requires us to fill out separate tax forms. Vermont *does* allow us to file jointly as a civil-union couple, but the Vermont tax form begins by asking us for numbers from - you guessed it - our jointly filed federal tax return! Those are numbers that don't exist, of course, because, we're not allowed to file those forms reserved for married people only.

Still, Vermont requires those federal tax forms, so we have to *pretend* that we're married and fill out a whole set of *pretend* IRS forms, use those numbers on the Vermont forms, and finally proceed as - dare I say it - normal.

If you're keeping score, that means a whole lot more forms to fill out. Instead of filing one joint federal form, and one joint state form, we get to fill out two individual federal forms, one joint state form, plus the all-too-special fictitious federal "married-and-filing-jointly" form.

We get professional help of course. That's where Walter comes in.

But even with Walter, we still have problems. The firm he works for charges by the form, so - to add insult to injury - we pay substantially more for the privilege of filing in this special pretend way. Yes, we have to pay more - with the reminder all the while that we aren't really married in the eyes of the feds. Call it the gay tax - which sounds silly enough - but then again, so does "separate but equal."
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