LGBT advocates, tax professionals say state’s tax policy is discriminatory

gay-equalityTax professionals, Equality Virginia, and a married lesbian couple came together Wednesday to explain that Virginia’s policy of requiring married lesbian and gay couples to file their state income tax returns as “individuals” is not only burdensome and confusing, but also discriminatory toward married gay and lesbian couples while also hurting businesses.

“Virginia’s tax policy turns its back on simple, fair, and transparent federal laws that allow married lesbian and gay couples to file their federal tax returns jointly,” said James Parrish, executive director or Equality Virginia.  “AllVirginians – including our many diverse communities, our businesses, and our children – would benefit from a more equitable tax policy.  Equality Virginia urges Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Herring to put a stop to this nonsensical, needlessly complicated, and backwards looking policy.”

Stephanie and Desiree Bryan, a married lesbian couple expecting twin girls any day, face various challenges as they prepare for the birth of their twins.  “We will have to decide who claims our babies as dependents for state tax purposes only, and then make sure we track payment of medical and other expenses separately.  That is required now in order to comply with health savings account rules,” said Stephanie Bryan.  “Unlike the IRS, Virginia doesn’t treat us like a family.”

A certified public accountant and tax attorney speaking on Wednesday agree that the policy is not only hurting married couples, but also businesses based in Virginia.  “The Virginia Department of Taxation is giving advice to employers that is discriminatory towards married lesbian and gay couples,” said Richmond based tax attorney, Katie Fletcher.

“Non-conformity is causing both individual and business taxpayers unnecessary additional preparation time and cost, as well as additional taxes that they would not otherwise be subject to,” said Kenneth Dance, partner at Wells Coleman & Company.

Due to the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA in 2013, married gay and lesbian couples – regardless of the state in which they reside – are now required to file their federal taxes as married.

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