SC Rules Same Sex Married Couples Can't File Jointly

1:10 PM, Feb 6, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The South Carolina Department of Revenue has decided that it will not allow same-sex married couples to file state taxes jointly.

The agency issued their filing guidance for this year's tax session this week.

In the ruling, the agency said because South Carolina's Constitution and statues clearly prohibit same-sex marriages, they cannot legally allow couples to file joint returns.

In a landmark ruling last year, the United States Supreme Court threw out most of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied same-sex couples many benefits. In response, the Internal Revenue Service decided to allow couples to file their federal returns jointly beginning in 2014.

The revenue department acknowledged the high court's ruling in its decision; however, the agency said that while South Carolina code instructs people to follow their federal filing status when filing in state, the state does allow for exceptions. Because of the state's stand against same sex marriage, the department concluded this was one of those exceptions.

The department says couples must file separately, or if single and qualified, can file as head of household. They must also prepare a separate federal income tax return for South Carolina purposes only and file as though they are not married.

South Carolina Equality, a gay rights advocacy group, criticized the decision, calling it separate and unequal.

"South Carolina is forcing all legally married same-sex couples to lie on their tax forms," said SC Equality Executive Director Ryan Wilson in a statement. "It is like asking us to take off our wedding rings and pretend just this once, that we are not actually married and ignore our legally binding commit to the person we love, as least for tax purposes."

Wilson wants lawmakers to pass a pending bill in the South Carolina legislature that would allow legally married couples to be treated equally for tax purposes. State Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland County) introduced that measure earlier this year.

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