In what is largely a symbolic victory, same-sex couples who entered a civil union will be allowed to file joint state income tax returns starting in January. The joint tax returns for same-sex couples is a symbolic victory because the joint returns are unlikely to save the couples any money.
However, gay rights groups are still calling this an important step forward, reports the Daily Herald.
Last year, Governor Pat Quinn passed new legislation that allowed same-sex couples to enter a civil union and receive many of the same benefits as married couples. In June, the law went into effect and many happy couples lined up at city hall to enter a civil union.
Among the benefits conferred were the rights of same sex partners to make medical decisions for ailing partners and inherit property. However, the ability to file joint tax returns was not originally part of the bill. So after signing the civil union bill, Governor Quinn fought to include the tax benefit as well, reports the Daily Herald.
With the joint tax returns, same-sex couples will be able to file state taxes jointly. Federal law still does not allow gay couples to file taxes jointly.
But even in state, same-sex couples probably won't see a monetary benefit from filing jointly. That's because Illinois has a flat income tax of 5 percent, so the benefits couples receive from filing together for federal taxes won't apply at the state level, reports the Daily Herald.
Still the right to file joint tax returns for same-sex couples is meaningful not because of the money. Instead, it's one more right given to gay couples that put them closer to par with traditionally married couples.
- Find a Chicago Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Couples in civil unions may file joint taxes (Chicago Tribune)
- Legal Issues arising from Same Sex Marriages (FindLaw)
- With Civil Unions Come Divorce for Illinois Same-Sex Couples (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)