We gay folks in Georgia don’t have any domestic partnership or civil union benefits, but for couples in states that do, H&R Block is offering $100 coupons or free Tax Cut software to say “I’m sorry” to gay couples who were locked out of their online tax software this year. H&R Block will also offer (after the ACLU got involved) free online support for folks in civil unions to figure out the hot mess of filing state taxes together but still filing federal taxes separately.
The fine print: the coupon only is valid if you went to one of H&R Block’s retail offices and paid for their help after the software said it couldn’t process your return. Nice.
It does remind me though that most people (gay or straight) don’t really realize how much it sucks to have laws that don’t allow gay folks (and those crazy hippy straight folks who live together and don’t get married) to file taxes together. If all finances are shared jointly, filing individual taxes is one of the biggest hassles ever. And taxes are enough of a hassle. The PL and I bought a house in 2007 (joint tenancy, with right of survivorship–don’t do it any other way..and get a will dammit!). No one cares if we own the house as equal partners, but since we can’t file taxes together, who gets to claim the sweet deductions from the interest?
The answer is that the interest can be split up on your tax return in any manner you wish, but not exceeding 100%. So, we had to try our taxes in the software in many many configurations to figure out what would work best. Not the best use of our time.
Problems to consider:
1. I have a fatty (at least for a 28 year old) investment portfolio just in my name–not to be greedy but to keep PL from having to pay taxes on the money too. Generally, taxes aren’t withheld from dividends and capital gains so I end up owing money to the feds for the time that I sit on my ass and let Steve Jobs make me rich, and let Coca-Cola ruin my future with bad advertising.
2. PL only worked part of that calendar year, so she had a small income. Showing she paid more than she earned for our down payment and interest would look sketchy at best. I’m not sure of the legality but I’m a worrier and don’t like to get in trouble.
3. We made charitable contributions from our joint checking, but bascially they were individual donations so any thank you materials usually just had one name on it.
4. I moved money from my individual account to our joint account, so PL could then move it to her own individual account and open a Roth IRA (got all that?). She can’t deduct that contribution from taxes this year, but won’t pay taxes when it is withdrawn. I have a Traditional IRA now so I get the tax benefits now, but will pay taxes when I pull the money out. So, we figured having both kinds or IRA’s in the family, albeit in different names, would be a good plan.
God Bless America!