Ohio Same-Sex Couples Will Still File Taxes Separately - For Now

Apr 15, 2014

Ohio gay same-sex marriage equality
Nicole Yorksmith (left) holds her son while standing with her partner, Pam Yorksmith. They were among four legally married couples who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking to compel Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages on birth certificates.
Credit Al Behrman / AP

A federal judge has ruled that Ohio will have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, and there are lots of legal implications to recognizing these out-of-state marriages. The ruling concerns birth certificates for the children of four gay couples, but marriage law can also touch on adoption, health care, and, of course, taxes.

Right now, married same-sex couples are considered single when they file taxes in Ohio. But this year's tax situation is complicated following a federal decision in 2013 that directs the IRS to recognize marriages from any state: some couples may file as married couples federally, but have to fill out special paperwork to separate their Ohio filings.

“Because our state constitution does not recognize same-sex marriages...same sex couples filing in Ohio are filing two income tax forms,” said Gary Gudmundson with the Ohio Department of Taxation. He would not speculate on whether or when that policy might change.

Regardless, U.S. District Court of Appeals Judge Timothy Black is likely to put a stay on his gay marriage decision while the state of Ohio files an appeal. He has given lawyers for the defense until 3pm Tuesday to respond to the plaintiffs’ argument regarding the stay. Black wrote that he was inclined to immediately order the state to issue new birth certificates for the children of the plaintiffs.

Ohio’s current law is based on a 2004 amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriage and prohibits the state from recognizing marriages not between one man and one woman. Judge Black said not recognizing both parents on a birth certificate “humiliates” the children and violates the constitution.

Currently, gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia, but the legal landscape is shifting rapidly since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which previously blocked the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. The 2013 tax year is the first year in which same-sex couples may face the discrepancy of being recognized on federal tax forms but not state forms.