Chicago, IL —
Gay and lesbian couples in Illinois civil unions will be able to file their taxes 2011 jointly just as married spouses are currently allowed.
The Illinois Department of Revenue made the announcement on Monday.
"This victory is not about financial gain for same-sex civil union couples, but it's about making sure that they get all the benefits, protections, rights, and responsibilities that married couples get," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.
Since June when same-sex couples first started entering into civil unions, it was unclear how this new status would affect state tax policy.
Under the new guidelines issued by the Department of Revenue, same-sex couples in a civil union may elect to file state taxes as "married, filed jointly" or "married, filed separately" – the same options opposite-sex married couples may choose. If applicable, couples would check a box for "same-sex civil union return."
Residents of Illinois pay a flat 5 percent tax regardless of marital status, so gay and lesbian couples won't save money.
"It is always a positive step forward when Illinois grants further relationship recognition at another state agency," said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda.
Illinois becomes the tenth state, along with Washington, D.C., to allow same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns.
Since the federal government still doesn't recognize civil unions, couples will still have to file their federal taxes separately.
"We at The Civil Rights Agenda will continue to fight for same-gender marriage in Illinois and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act to ensure that same-gender couples will have the same rights and responsibilities as all couples, including the ability to file taxes jointly at the federal level," added Martinez.