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Updated: Income Tax Filing Status for Same-Sex Married Couples

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2014 | LGBTQ Legal Issues |


For Colorado same-sex couples who have been lawfully married in a state recognizing same-sex marriages, a bit of confusion initially existed this year when it came to filing income taxes, at least with regard to their state taxes. However, that confusion has now subsided.

At the federal level, so long as a couple has obtained a valid marriage license, then regardless of whether the state in which they reside recognizes their marriage, for federal tax purposes the couple is married and must file their taxes, accordingly.  At the state level, however, there was some confusion but the Department of Revenue and the Colorado legislature have cleared up the matter.

Under current state regulations, every Colorado taxpayer must file their state income taxes using the same status they use in their federal income tax return.  Thus, Colorado’s amendment banning same-sex marriage created quite a conundrum when it comes to same-sex married couples.  On November 29, 2013, the Colorado Department of Revenue announced via its website that it has promulgated an emergency regulation that will allow same-sex married couples to file their state income tax returns using the same status that is used on their federal returns. The relevant emergency regulation is published here on the Department’s website. It specifically provides, in relevant part, “Any couple that files a joint federal income tax return must also file a joint state income tax return. State income tax provisions that depend upon federal income tax filing status will be administered in accordance with federal income tax filing status.”

Additionally, the state legislature passed and Governor Hickenlooper signed into law SB 14-19 sponsored by Senator Pat Steadman, amending the state’s civil union laws to remove the prohibition against civil union partners filing joint returns.  It also amends the state income tax law in order to make it gender neutral.  It does not permit the State of Colorado to recognize same-sex marriages but instead, allows the state to recognize your federal income tax filing status.