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Tax and Finance Updates
Tis the Tax Season: Tax Tips Now That You're Legal
will be the
law of the
land, now we
work out the
bolts. As if
filing as a
Marriage equality may indeed bring changes to your tax situation including the dreaded 'marriage penalty' (more on this in a future post). But there's quite a lot you can do to bring your bill down now. But please, please, please don't wait until 11 p.m. on April 15th and risk getting shocked by a surprisingly high bill from the tax man or miss out on year-end deadlines for significant tax-saving opportunities.
So even though you'd much rather be decking the halls with holly right now, you two do need to get in touch with your inner Scrooges for a few hours of proactive tax prep as in immediately. Why? Because once the New Year has rung in, many of these opportunities will disappear overnight like yesterday's bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne.
(From David Rae, Certified Financial Planner, Huffington Post)
LGBT Financial & Legal Concerns
There is a wealth of available financial and legal resources for the LGBT community to help answer a variety of questions. What is unique about the financial concerns of the LGBT community? Which financial institutions are LGBT friendly? What issues do gay and lesbian couples face when buying a home? Where can you find a lawyer who understands LGBT rights? And what about such things as taxes, asset management, insurance, retirement planning, investing, and estate planning as they apply to the LGBT community?
& Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Family Law: Same Sex Couple Legal Issues
Home Buying Guide for Gay & Lesbian Couples
Home Buying Guide for Unmarried Couples
Purchasing a House with a Domestic Partner
Property Ownership & Same Sex Couples
Joan Burda, Attorney for LGBT Rights
LGBT Financial Tips: Tax, Insurance, Investing
Gay Financial Network
Couples Buying Houses
Gay and Lesbian couples are in a unique situation when it comes to mortgages and home purchases. The problem lies less in getting a mortgage or purchasing a home than in what happens to the property if the relationship breaks up or one of the partners dies.
"Most states do not
recognize lesbian and
gay relationships,” says
attorney Joan M. Burda.
“The laws in those
states were not written
with the legal rights of
lesbian and gay couples
in mind. Many states
predicate their property
statutes on marriage. In
most states, lesbians
and gay men have no or
limited legal rights.
But, a good lawyer can
help you protect
yourself, your partner,
joint." It’s funny to
approach starting a new
phase in a relationship
and buying property by
thinking about what
might happen if that
relationship ends. But
that kind of planning is
crucial. “If a couple is
buying, they need an
agreement in writing,”
says Burda. “If you have
one partner who puts
down more and they break
up ten years later, and
the house has to be
divided, you have a
mess. They need to work
this out in the
Navigating the home buying process and the mortgage maze is intimidating enough. Add to it the societal and legal complications of being a same-sex couple and you are potentially in for a stressful ride. Knowing what to prepare for and thinking ahead can only make that ride a little bit smoother.
Forbes Mag Financial Insight: Married With Complications
Marc Wernick and his partner, David Gerson, were planning to tie the knot on July 24, the first day New York State's new Marriage Equality Act allowed same-sex marriage. But three days before, they got cold feet--not about each other but about the financial effects of making their commitment legal. So while they joined the exuberant crowds celebrating at New York's City Hall on the historic day, they postponed their own wedding. What happened? Wernick, a 47-year-old budget analyst for Columbia University, attended a planning seminar for same-sex couples and learned, among other things, that he might be legally on the hook for $150,000 in student loan debt that Gerson, 37, still has from law school and college. The couple, who have been together for a year and a half, still plan to marry "surrounded by friends and family," Wernick says. But first they want to mull all the financial consequences.
For same-sex couples each new state law allowing them to wed is a political, emotional and civil rights victory. But whether marriage will be a financial win, too, depends on a couple's age, income, assets, debts, where they live, whether they have kids and a raft of still unresolved legal issues. Some gay folks are surprised by the legal duties (as well as rights) that come with marriage, says Keith Bradoc Gallant, a lawyer with Day Pitney in New Haven, Conn.
Traditionally, same-sex unmarried couples have had to make sure they had proper documents in place so they could make end-of-life decisions about each other and inherit each other's property. Now married gay New Yorkers must worry, as heterosexual married folks must, about the obligation each spouse has to support the other if, for example, one loses a job, becomes disabled or runs up big medical bills not covered by insurance.
Moreover, even as they take on such scary legal duties, same-sex married couples aren't yet getting all the legal benefits that opposite-sex married folks enjoy, points out Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston. That's because the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) defines marriage as a "legal union between one man and one woman." Gay advocates are now arguing in court that the law is unconstitutional, and recently the Obama Administration agreed. But for now federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, consider DOMA the law.
As a result, same-sex spouses aren't entitled to each other's Social Security benefits, can't sponsor each other for citizenship and aren't covered by the law that protects a spouse's right to a company-sponsored retirement account. They also don't enjoy any of the special privileges for spouses who inherit individual retirement accounts, most notably the right to postpone distributions and take full advantage of tax-deferred compounding (in the case of a traditional IRA) or tax-free earnings (with a Roth). Even splitting up can be more expensive, because unlike other divorcing couples, they can't divide assets without a potential tax hit.
State laws, too, have a profound effect. In addition to New York, the states of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont and Washington, D.C. now allow same-sex marriages. Another 13 states permit "domestic partnerships" or "civil unions," which provide varying degrees of rights. (The laws in New Jersey, California, Washington and Oregon give same-sex couples virtually all the state law rights opposite-sex married couples have.)
But a same-sex couple who get married in New York or Massachusetts (which have no residency requirements) may find their new marriage disregarded by another state they live in or move to or might receive an inheritance from, says Susan T. Bart, a lawyer with Sidley Austin in Chicago.
(From Deborah Jacobs, Forbes Magazine)
Forbes Mag: Married With Complications
Forbes Mag: It's Time to Stop Fighting About Same-Sex Marriage
Forbes Mag: Same-Sex Weddings Inspire Creative Ad Campaigns
LGBT Financial and Legal Resources
HRC Work Net
Lambda Legal Employment Notes
Lambda Legal: Be A Workplace Ally
Gay Realty Network
Houses & Mortgages for Gay & Lesbian Couples
Pro Gay Jobs
GLBT Career Resources
Straight Jobs Gay Lives
Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama