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Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 9:20am

Will GA Allow Same Sex Couples To File Joint Tax Returns?

Same sex couples who married legally in other states are waiting to learn if they will be able to file their Georgia taxes jointly. It’s unclear how last week’s IRS ruling will impact Georgians.

The IRS ruled that all legally married couples can file joint federal tax returns, no matter where they live. But since the state of Georgia has a constitutional ban on same sex marriage, officials are reviewing whether Georgia can allow those couples to file as married.

Michael Perling, partner the Atlanta CPA firm of Birnbrey, Minsk, Minsk & Perling, says if the state refuses to follow what the IRS is doing, legally married same sex couples in Georgia may file as many as three different tax returns. “For example, a federal joint return and two single returns in Georgia. That would be additional cost for using a paid preparer, or additional effort on the taxpayer’s part.”

A spokesman says the Georgia Department of Revenue is currently reviewing the Treasury Department decision. He says Georgia will make a decision before taxpayers have to file their 2013 returns.

Perling says his clients are waiting for an answer. “From a tax standpoint, we’re just in limbo as regards to how people will be treated for Georgia income tax purposes.”

Walter Coffey of Atlanta married David Sprowl three years ago in Massachusetts. He says they aren’t sure if they would pay more under the new system. “We’re just starting to explore it. We’ve had some friends that have started doing that. And I think what they’re discovering financially is that it’s helpful.”

But Coffey says it’s a good first step that the federal government has recognized their marriage.

Sprowl says he believes Georgia will ultimately recognize their union. He says “I’m very optimistic. I think within the next decade I suspect things will change. I mean it’s happening so quickly.”

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