Spouses v. Husband & Wife: Fight over Taxes for Married Gay Couples Heats Up

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stevendamron on flickr
"Here? Where it says 'wife?' Can we change that to 'spouse?'"
Gay couples may be constitutionally banned from marrying in Missouri, but this year, for the first time, LGBT people who marry in other states and pay taxes here are allowed to file jointly, like any other married couple.

Conservative, "pro-family" activists want to change that. They've tried lawsuits. They've tried impeaching the governor, who changed the rule in the first place.

Now, they're trying a restraining order.

Three weeks before tax day, four of Missouri's staunchest conservative activists filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in Cole County Circuit Court to stop Missouri from collecting taxes from same-sex spouses married in other states. The motion claims accepting taxes from married gay couples violates the voter-approved constitutional amendment that says marriage can only exist between a man and a woman.

Taxpayers "have suffered, and will continue to suffer, immediate and irreparable harm," the motion says, because Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order in November allowing joint filing to bring Missouri tax codes in line with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.

See also: Missouri to Gays: You Can't Get Married Here, But We Will Take Your Tax Dollars

"No one believes that the Missouri Legislature intended that, in the event the federal government chose to recognize same sex marriages, Missouri law would just incorporate such recognition, allowing the federal government to control marriage law," the motion reads. "The governor acted now, but executive degree, to 'fix' the problem in a way that is consistent with his evolving views of marriage but which is not consistent with our current Constitution."

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stevendamron on flickr
Your future together...may or may not include filing joint taxes in Missouri.
PROMO, the statewide LGBT rights organization, says there's nothing about taxes paid by gay couples that cause Missouri "irreparable harm."

"The only harm that I see is at the cost of the couples who have paid their taxes for years without having their relationship recognized," says executive director A.J. Bockleman. "Other states, such as Kansas where they also have a constitutional amendment, but do not allow joint filing, will require couples to file a total of five returns between state and federal. I fail to see how anyone is specifically harmed by a couple filing their taxes jointly."

See also: Rep. Nick Marshall Files to Impeach Gov. Jay Nixon for Letting Gay Couples File Joint Taxes

Changing the tax laws doesn't loosen Missouri's restriction on gay marriage, but it will cause the state to "expend public funds to plan, prepare and train employees for, to communicate, publish, mail, and post" a new process for accepting returns from married gay couples, according to the motion. For example, tax paperwork may ask the name of "yourself" and your "spouse," not for the names of the "husband" and "wife."

And that's exactly what the four men who filed the temporary restraining order Wednesday don't want.

The men who filed the motion are: Kerry Messer, a lobbyist and the president of Missouri Family Network; Don Hinkle, the director of public policy for the Missouri Baptist Convention; Justin Mosher, chairman of the Christian Life Commission of the Missouri Baptist Convention; and Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council.

The restraining order won't go into effect unless a judge approves it.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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28 comments
James Madison
James Madison

Gay couples marking their Federal returns as filing together will discover their state income taxes will be messed up trying to file the state return as individuals. It may lead to an excessive amount of audits, and court appearances to straighten out the problems.

James Madison
James Madison

Wrong. Common sense should be that the government treat all Americans equally. No special treatment for married couples, straight or gay. No special treatment for co-habiting couples either. What individual companies decide to do is their business (pun intended).

Jay Binder
Jay Binder

A quick question (sorry if it is ignorant) do same sex divorces and legal separations Fall under the same laws?

Jason M Parker
Jason M Parker

Given the divorce rate in the USA we straight people have no right telling anyone how or who to love.

jbradhicks
jbradhicks

Some of you may not be from Missouri, some of you may not file your own taxes, so let me point out something that all the news coverage of this specific debate seems to leave out: you *can't* file Missouri taxes without having filed your federal taxes, because the Missouri tax forms require a number that's calculated on your federal form. Which means that if a gay or lesbian couple file joint federal taxes, then one of them literally can't file a separate Missouri return ... they don't have any way to calculate Missouri adjusted gross income. So unless we completely rewrite Missouri income tax law and completely redesign the form, if there are any couples in Missouri that are legally married by federal law, the state pretty much *has* to let them file jointly.

Eric Jacobs
Eric Jacobs

This is law in all 50 states was passed by supreme court a few months back I believe

Ben Mansfield
Ben Mansfield

Colby Raines be careful... speaking the truth here isn't always smiled upon We don't fit their stereotypes

Ben Mansfield
Ben Mansfield

I'm a conservative activist and I couldn't care less

Michael J Keller
Michael J Keller

Keep on makin' 'em furious. If they're not, you're probably doing something wrong.

Joshua Beller
Joshua Beller

The perks of living in a red state with a lot of bigots.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

What are they furious about? There aren't any more tax incentives for being married in the first place.

Kimberly Fach
Kimberly Fach

Grow up conservative activist and just let others live their life.

Colby Keener
Colby Keener

These so called conservative activist don't speak for the majority of the conservative base just like poverty pimps Jesse Jackson and Sharpton are not the lead speakers of the liberals. Leave it to the RFT.

Dana Jenkins
Dana Jenkins

Amazing....great way for the state to create more revenue.

John Crusen
John Crusen

Exactly. It has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with money.

Joe Thebeau
Joe Thebeau

...why. if they are married, whats the difference ... ?

Rebecca Bahan
Rebecca Bahan

Good thing they are still focusing on this nonsense rather than real issues like education . Come on, Missouri, get out of the dark ages and vote for legislators that can make a difference...

Tim Garner
Tim Garner

Give it up Missouri. Times are changing. Gay couples increase your property value. Let them move in next door and pay taxes too

Christopher Schmidt
Christopher Schmidt

How about work on things that really need to be fixed? Like oh I don't know all our bridges in disrepair, roads with potholes that need resurfacing, help MoDot raise the money; find ways to make Solar Power creation less toxic to the environment. I think the "This Section Closed" sign above refers to their brains being closed, lol.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

then don't sue bakeries and put them out of business because they won't make a gay wedding cake. that doesn't win over people.

Mike Brannon
Mike Brannon

Let them be miserable like every other married couple.

Timothy Tinajero
Timothy Tinajero

Maybe they should try minding their own damn business. That might work.

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