Four couples in Louisiana are challenging the state’s ban on recognizing marriages performed out-of-state.
The couples are using discriminatory taxes as the basis of their lawsuit. State law requires taxpayers to use the same filing status — either single or married — on their state returns as on their federal returns. The IRS ruled that married same-sex couples may file joint returns whether they live in a marriage-equality state or not. Louisiana ruled that same-sex couples may not file joint returns.
Same-sex couples are faced with either breaking the law by providing a different status on their state tax returns or defying a ruling by the state Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield wrote last September.
“The taxpayer must provide the same federal income tax information on the Louisiana State Return that would have been provided prior to the issuance” of the IRS ruling, Barfield wrote.
Louisiana law directs taxpayers to use the same status on state tax returns that they use on federal returns. Because of the state constitution’s ban, the revenue department requires that a gay couple filing as married on a federal tax return must file a Louisiana return as single or head of household.
If Louisiana couples file joint federal returns and separate state returns, they may be paying higher taxes and would have higher tax preparation costs. Their suit claims it is discriminatory and requires them to file a false marital status.
The suit is based on federal equal protection and free speech rights. It is being filed a week after Attorney Gen. Eric Holder spoke at the New York City HRC dinner and said married same-sex couples would have all federal rights accorded opposite-sex couples.
The suit was announced the same day a San Antonio judge is set to hear a lawsuit by two Texas couples challenging the Texas marriage ban.