Thirteen states, including the District of Columbia, currently allow same-sex married couples to file their state tax returns using the married filing jointly or married filing separately status. Starting August 1, 2013, Minnesota and Rhode Island will allow for same-sex marriages, and presumably the number of states allowing same-sex couples to file joint returns will increase to 15.
In order to file jointly in these states, you must be married or legally entered into a civil union or registered domestic partnership (RDP).
Same-Sex Marriage States
The following states allow same-sex couples to marry and also require them to file their taxes using the married filing jointly or married filing separately statuses:
- Connecticut (see page 17 of the 2012 Instructions for Form CT-1040, [pdf])
- Hawaii (see page 2 of the 2012 Instructions for Form N-11, [pdf])
- Iowa [pdf]
- Minnesota (will allow same-sex marriages starting August 1, 2013, guidance from the state on tax issues is forthcoming)
- New Hampshire [pdf]
- New York
- Rhode Island (will allow same-sex marriages starting August 1, 2013)
Civil Union/Registered Domestic Partner States
These states recognize civil unions/RDPs and also allow gay couples to file their taxes jointly:
This is an evolving issue and laws can change quickly, so check with your state's tax authority for the rules in your state.
Impact on Federal Filing Status
Gay and lesbian married couples will be able to file their federal tax returns using either of the married filing status. Following the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor that struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, same-sex married couples will be able to file their tax returns either jointly or separately. Prior to the Supreme Court's decision, the IRS did not allow for gay couples to file as married couples and required that spouses file using one of the filing status options for unmarried people. I do expect further guidance from the IRS on this issue. Tentatively, I expect that the IRS will allow gay and lesbian couples to use the married filing jointly or married filing separately filing status if the couple resides in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages. Also tentatively, couples who are domestic partners or in a civil union might not be eligible to file either jointly or separately as a married couple, since a domestic partnership or civil union is not a marriage. However, I do expect the IRS to clarify these situations.
Married couples who live in a community property state have additional considerations. If they file using the married filing separately filing status, they will need to report their income and deductions according to their state's community property laws. This applies to same-sex married couples who choose to filing separately and where one or both spouses lives in Washington, California or Nevada.
Domestic partners and couples in a civil union may not be considered married for federal tax purposes. However, domestic partners and couples in a civil union may need to report their income and deductions using their state's community property laws. This impacts domestic partners in Washington, California and Nevada.