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Same-sex married couples filing joint federal return must file separately in Michigan

Rick Pluta

After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" last July, the IRS announced that as of September 16th, gay couples with a state sanctioned marriage will be required to file their federal taxes as joint returns with their partner, or "married filing separately" - regardless of what state they live in now.

But in Michigan, those same couples will still be required to file separate returns, according to a document posted on the Michigan Department of Treasury's website.

The Michigan Treasury Department document says "under Michigan law the phrase 'husband and wife' means a man and a woman who are married to each other."

From the document:

Each individual must recalculate their federal adjusted gross income as if they had filed a single federal return. The Department will provide a worksheet on its website that can be used to recalculate income.

That worksheet is not available yet.

Brian O'Conner wrote about the "undated document" for the Detroit News:

Beyond the hassle and expense of refiguring and filing separate returns, the requirement to file singly could cost same-sex couples on some deductions, noted Marshall Hunt, director of tax services for the Accounting Aid Society in Detroit. Limits to how much a single filer can claim for some deductions and credits are higher for married couples, and could cause same-sex couples to miss out on tax breaks that other married couples can claim.

There's a federal challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage which will be heard this October. If it's struck down, we'll have to see how the state's treasury department reacts.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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