New York Tax Dep't Says New York Same-Sex Couples Who Married Out of State Cannot File State Taxes Jointly

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"We were willing to do our part for New York, but New York wasn't willing to do its part for us"
April 4, 2006

(New York, April 4, 2006) — In response to petitions filed by Lambda Legal, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance cited state tax law and said that New York same-sex married couples cannot file their taxes jointly as married couples. “It’s tax time — that time of year when all New Yorkers are united in fulfilling their financial responsibility to the state, but same-sex couples who married out of state and are just as married as any other married couple in New York, are forced to say that they are not married for tax purposes,” said Alphonso David, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on this matter. “The Department’s decision is short-sighted for a number of reasons, including the fact that some married same-sex couples would shoulder a heavier financial obligation to the state if their marital status were recognized for tax purposes.” “The Tax Department concluded its hands were tied by a tax provision that is inconsistent with how the rest of New York law treats same-sex couples,” said Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal and lead attorney in Hernandez v. Robles, Lambda Legal’s lawsuit seeking marriage for same-sex couples in New York. “This decision highlights why it is important that same-sex couples be allowed to marry right here in New York.” The advisory opinion states, “[S]ince Petitioner’s marriage to his same-sex partner is not a marriage for federal income tax purposes, it is not a marriage for New York State personal income tax purposes.” John Galanti and John Hotchkiss, who were married in Canada and represented by Lambda Legal in this petition to the Tax Department, would have had to pay more taxes if the Department had allowed same-sex couples to file jointly. “We were willing to do our part for New York, but New York wasn’t willing to do its part for us,” said Galanti. Lambda Legal also represented Martin and Andrew Farach-Colton in its petition to the Tax Department. The couple was also married in Canada. The papers filed with the Department of Taxation and Finance are a continuation of Lamdba Legal’s work to ensure that marriages of same-sex couples are respected in all aspects of life, including public and private employers and services provided by businesses. Lambda Legal worked with John Galanti to obtain spousal health insurance coverage for his spouse, John Hotchkiss, from Galanti’s employer, the Town of Chili, which now joins other municipalities, such as Buffalo, Rochester and New York City, in respecting marriages between same-sex couples. In Funderburke v. the Department of Civil Service, Lambda Legal is representing Duke Funderburke in a lawsuit to obtain spousal health insurance coverage for his same-sex spouse, Bradley Davis. Insurance companies such as CIGNA, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance Company and Health Economics Group have confirmed that they will respect marriages between same-sex couples for purposes of spousal health and dental coverage. Further, automobile insurance providers in New York, including Geico, State Farm, Allstate, Travelers’ Insurance and others, offer married same-sex couples family coverage and premium rates, if requested, the same way they do for other married policyholders. ### Contact Mark Roy: 212-809-8585, ext. 267


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