Michigan Treasury Department rules same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns

[JURIST] The Michigan Department of Treasury [official website] has determined [text, PDF] that same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns. In a one-page notice posted on the Treasury website, Michigan residents are advised that same-sex couples who file a joint federal income tax return must continue to file income tax returns for Michigan with each individual using the single filing status. The Michigan Income Tax Act [text, PDF] limits a joint tax return to a married couple who are "husband and wife." The Michigan Constitution employs similar language, defining "marriage" under Article 1 section 25 [text] as a union of one man and one woman. Although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [official website] ruled in August that any legal same-sex marriage would be recognized [JURIST report] for joint filing on federal tax returns, even if the couple lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, Michigan's constitutional language bars same-sex marriage recognition for any purpose.

The IRS ruling followed the US Supreme Court's decision in US v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report] which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text]. The ruling did not create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but it entitles couples in lawfully recognized same-sex marriages to certain federal benefits. Since the ruling, states have split over whether to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state. On Wednesday a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] expanded a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking the recognition of same-sex spouses on death certificates. Judge Timothy Black ruled in July and September [JURIST reports] that the surviving same-sex spouses of two decedents should be listed as spouses on death certificates because their marriages were valid under the laws of the states where they were performed. Earlier this week a Kentucky judge ruled that the same-sex spouse of a woman charged with murder must testify against her at the trial because same-sex partners are not protected by the spousal privilege [JURIST report] under Kentucky state law. Last month the Texas Supreme Court [official website] announced that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction [JURIST report] to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts.

 

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