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Gay rights leaders welcome IRS tax ruling, say Michigan will need to address confusion

Domestic partner benefits include benefits to gay and non-gay couples.
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Domestic partner benefits include benefits to gay and non-gay couples.

The IRS says same-sex couples legally wed in a state that allows it will be recognized as married for federal tax purposes -- even if they reside in a state like Michigan that does not allow same-sex marriage.

It’s not clear yet how the state will deal with the ruling.

Gay rights leaders say the IRS decision is very good news.

Emily Dievendorf is the director of Equality Michigan.

“So, while the federal government is now helping to provide some equality in federal income tax credits and child tax credits, Michigan tax credits do not apply to same-sex couples and families,” said Dievendorf.

Michigan tax forms don’t ask about taxpayers’ gender. They don’t have anything that would distinguish same-sex couples from heterosexual couples. State tax forms simply allow a couple to claim their federal marital status.

Dievendorf says the ruling is going to create confusion that may require court rulings or legislative action to resolve.

“I think that, unfortunately, because of this inconsistency between state and federal law, these are questions that continue to come up and decisions that will have to be challenged,” said Dievendorf.

“We do want to create a situation where Michigan is caring for its citizens in all ways that are necessary to care for our families, but also creating continuity with federal law,” she said. 

There is an October hearing scheduled in a federal court challenge to Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.

LGBT rights groups are also getting ready to go the ballot in 2016 to reverse the same-sex marriage ban.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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