UPDATE: Defined benefit retirement plans must also recognize same-sex marriages

David-Henderson

David Mack Henderson

In the Dec. 5 issue of Dallas Voice, we reported on the discovery by Resource Center Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell and Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson that the Internal Revenue Service requires that defined contribution retirement plans — such as 401(a), 401(k) and 125 cafeteria plans —  recognize same-sex spouses of plan members if the couple were married in a jurisdiction that legally recognizes such marriages — even if the couple lives in a state that bans marriage equality.

Henderson has since discovered that defined benefit plans must also recognize same-sex spouses:

“From Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law:
Q17. What are some examples of the consequences of these rules for qualified retirement plans?
A17. The following are some examples of the consequences of these rules:
Plan A, a qualified defined benefit plan, is maintained by Employer X, which operates only in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages. Nonetheless, Plan A must treat a participant who is married to a spouse of the same sex under the laws of a different jurisdiction as married for purposes of applying the qualification requirements that relate to spouses.”

A defined benefit pension plan is a type of pension plan in which an employer/sponsor promises a specified monthly benefit on retirement that is predetermined by a formula based on the employee’s earnings history, tenure of service and age, rather than depending directly on individual investment returns. A defined contribution plan, on the other hand, does not promise a specific amount of benefits at retirement. In these plans, the employee or the employer (or both) contribute to the employee’s individual account under the plan, sometimes at a set rate.

You can also find information on the Equality Texas website.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: IRS rules same-sex couples can file as married

TreasuryThe IRS ruled Friday that all legally married same-sex couples will be treated as married for federal tax purposes no in matter which state they reside. The ruling applies to income, estate and gift tax. The ruling also affects the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

Domestic partnerships from states such as Nevada or Oregon or civil unions from states such as Hawaii, New Jersey or Colorado are not considered marriages for federal purposes.

Marriage from other countries such as Canada are recognized by the federal government.

Couples will be able to file a 1040X to amend previous returns up to three years. Married couples that paid tax on domestic partner benefits are entitled to refunds. Some couples will be eligible for a refund if they refile with one spouse claiming the other as a dependent.

Legally married couples will file as “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.”

—  David Taffet

Kindred Spirits presents: The Judy Garland Christmas Show

Judy Garland Christmas ShowThere’s kitsch. There’s camp. Then there’s the Judy Garland Christmas Show, perhaps the single most absurdly divine thing to ever be produced by the 1960′s television industry. Kindred Spirits presents its 4th Annual Judy Garland Christmas Show & Sing-Along December 4th at Meteor (2306 Genesee St) at 5 pm.

In 1963 Garland found herself in trouble with the IRS for forgetting to pay taxes for a couple of years. Desperate for cash, she agreed to star in a weekly variety show for CBS, then proceeded to record 26 of the most gin-soaked hours in television history. Garland was remarkably cogent for the Christmas episode however, perhaps because her children were all on set as guest stars. Lorna Luft, Joey Luft and (almost unrecognizable with long hair) Liza Minnelli join fellow guests Jack Jones, Tracy Everitt, Mel Tormé and the true stars of the show, the chorus line of dancing Santas, for an hour of surreal delight.

With Nancy Ford emceeing, the Judy Garland Christmas Show & Sing-Along has become a Houston holiday tradition. In addition to the show and complimentary eats there’s also a raffle for a flat screen television. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and can be purchased at kindredspiritshouston.org. Proceeds benefit AssistHers, the Lesbian Health Initiative Houston, and Expert Nutrition.

After the break watch the opening number from the Judy Garland Christmas Show.

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – Wings of Desire at MFAH, IRS to allow deductions for gender transition

Wings of Desire1. If you’re a fan of German films that are partially in French, the film oeuvre of Peter Faulk and sexy trapeze artists with existential angst then “Wings of Desire” is your kind of flick.  The 1987 Wim Wenders masterpiece tells the story of an Angel (Bruno Ganz) who, after watching humanity since the dawn of time, desires to become human so he can be with the woman he loves. “Wings of Desire” screens tonight at 7 pm at the Museum of Fine Art Houston (1001 Bissonnet).

2. Transgender Americans who undergo hormone therapy or receive gender realignment surgery may now be able to deduct the costs of those treatments on their taxes. According to GLAD, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the IRS has issued an “action on decision” statement saying that the agency will acquiesce to an appeals court ruling allowing the deductions. GLAD cautions that medical deductions can still be audited and encourages anyone planning to deduct cost of transition medical expenses to rigorously document the medical necessity of treatments and consult with a tax professional when preparing return

3. Election day is tomorrow. If you’re one of the 58,345 people in Harris County who voted early, then good for you.  If not, you’ll want to visit HarrisVotes.org and find out where to go to cast your ballot.  Polls open at 7 am on Tuesday and close at 7 pm sharp.

—  admin

Sarah Palin to bring her anti-abortion song and dance back to Dallas at the Majestic on Nov. 10

Sarah Palin’s coming back to town to encourage women once again to have unwanted pregnancies.

She’s scheduled to appear at the Majestic Theater on Nov. 10, The Dallas Observer notes.

We’d go and cover it, but media is routinely denied access to Palin events. I’d love to interview her, actually. I find her fascinating.

Doesn’t say what Palin will do. Sing? Dance? Tell Alaska jokes about lipstick and raising your kids to marry hot guys and get pregnant in high school?

Earlier this year, she appeared in Dallas for a fundraiser for a non-existent anti-abortion clinic in Uptown. The picture used was of a house on Fairmount Street.

The charity was advertised as being a 501(c)(3) but was never registered with the IRS. Anyone who deducts a donation to them could be subject to back taxes and penalties.

The Majestic event is sponsored by a group called Heroic Media.

That group “uses mass media to help women facing unexpected pregnancies to life-affirming resource centers.”

What they don’t provide is medical care for those women.

From Heroic Media’s website:

South Florida has the highest abortion ratio in the United States — the market records more than 600 abortions for every 1,000 births. The area’s 30 abortion facilities target low income and ethnic neighborhoods and their advertisements literally saturate the region.

Florida commercials, billboards and other advertisements generally showcase happy tourists and sun-kissed beachgoers; they don’t depict the desperation experienced by women forced into abortion. Heroic Media wants to provide the women of Florida with hope. They deserve to learn about positive options. They need to know there are people willing to listen and help.

Funny. I have family in South Florida and visit often. I have never seen an abortion ad. Not a billboard. Not a TV or radio ad. Nothing. And they don’t give an example of one of these ads on their website.

More about this if we can get through to Heroic Media. Tried this morning but no answer at their Austin headquarters.

—  David Taffet

Some census facts … and another reminder

census2010The 2010 Census is the 23rd since the nation’s inception. The census has been conducted in the United States every decade since 1790, as required by Article 1, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution.

· The 10 questions posed in today’s census aren’t very different from the six questions posed in the 1790 Census, except this time they aren’t asking how many slaves you own.

· Thomas Jefferson was the first director of what would become the Census Bureau; James Madison developed five of the six questions posed in the first census.

· The U.S. Census was the first census used to determine political representation for communities. Previous censuses — going back to Biblical times — were used mainly for tax-collection and conscription for labor and soldiers.

· Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing its information with any other agencies, including the IRS and Immigration.

· It’s a legal obligation to complete your Census form, but it’s also your civic duty. And by completing your form and mailing it back, you’re saving the government money — it costs the U.S. government 44 cents if you mail back your form. If you don’t, the government spends an average of $57 for each house to hire temporary workers to visit your house to get the information.

So if you haven’t already done so, mail in your damn form! It takes 3 minutes to fill out! If you did not receive a form, call 866-872-6868.

—  David Taffet

Tax tips for same-sex couples

Some of the special rights that heterosexual couples enjoy have to do with taxes. But depending on circumstances, gay and lesbian couples who marry may run into the “marriage penalty.”

Tax law was designed for June and Ward Cleaver. Dad is the breadwinner. Mom stays home and raises the kids. If she does have a job, she earns a lot less. The marriage penalty happens when both partners earn about the same amount. So if both partners are equal contributors, monetarily speaking, they’re better off unmarried for income tax purposes.

If a couple has children, a married couple takes a deduction on their joint tax form. Gay or lesbian couples with joint custody cannot. However, the deduction may have a larger impact on one tax form than on the other and either may take the deduction. Check with an accountant.

If you took advantage of the $8,000 tax credit to buy a new home, that credit must be split. The IRS has issued guidelines on that for “single” people who have purchased property with other “single” people.

The IRS allows a single person to file as “head of household” if that person has contributed more than other members of the household toward upkeep. Because of deductions, tax rates may be lower for head of household. Check with an accountant.

—  David Taffet