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Same-Sex State Tax Bill Passes House, Heads To Governor

Jose Antonio Navas
Flickr-Creative Commons
A newly married couple following the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York.

Having passed its third and final reading in the Colorado House, Senate Bill 19 now only awaits the Governor’s signature.  The bill allows same-sex couples residing in Colorado and married in one of the 17 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal to file joint state taxes.

The change only impacts same-sex couples married legally outside of Colorado and residing in the state. Couples who have entered only into a civil union in Colorado will not be allowed to file joint state taxes, nor joint federal taxes since their union is not recognized as a legal marriage. 

Mindy Barton, legal director for the GLBT Center of Denver, says the bill is an important step for recognizing same-sex married couples in the state.

“We do have a huge number of couples who are legally married in a state that legally recognizes their relationship but now live in Colorado and are legally married in the eyes of the Federal government but not yet in the eyes of Colorado,” said Barton.

In June of 2013, the Supreme Court ruled sections of the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA were unconstitutional.  Soon after, federal agencies began recognizing same-sex couples married lawfully for the purpose of federal law.

Barton said Colorado’s Department of Revenue issued an emergency tax regulation statement regarding same-sex tax filing following the Supreme Court’s decision. 

“The position of the Colorado Department of Revenue has always been that Colorado couples who are filing jointly or separately as married with the Federal government should also be filing that way within the state system,” Barton said.

“So really this legislation is to clean up and clarify that the emergency rule is in effect and that statutes should catch up to make sure the Colorado tax code is updated in complying with federal policy,” she said.

LGBT advocacy groups are continuing to push for marriage equality in Colorado. Barton said there are a handful of local court cases regarding same-sex marriage in Colorado. She said a ballot initiative to overturn the 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage could also be moving forward.

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