As April 18 approaches, LGBT couples send message to IRS

Mon. April 4, 2011 11:21 PM by News Staff

Washington, D.C. - Gays and lesbians who are legally married face a conundrum every year at tax time: which box to check on the IRS forms.

This year, a same-sex marriage advocacy group is encouraging couples to choose "Married Filing Jointly," even though that choice could end costing couples time, money, and grief.

"The Federal Government must stop requiring legally married gay couples to deny the existence of our families and hide our marriages," the founders of "Refuse to Lie" said on their website. "It is dehumanizing and it is wrong."

The New York Times reports that gays and lesbians who file jointly at a time when the laws is in flux could slip through. An IRS spokesperson told the newspaper that taxpayers can take any position if there is "substantial authority to do so. The recent legal decisions on gay marriage in California and elsewhere could certainly constitute "substantial authority."

Additionally, the most recent governors and attorneys general of California have also refused to defend that state's ban on gay marriage, and the Obama administration has told the Justice Department to get out of the business of defending "DOMA" (the anti-gay "Defense of Marriage Act") on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

The "Refuse to Lie" website goes into detail about the possible tax penalties that gay and lesbian married couples might face, depending on the IRS's reaction. For example, the IRS can slap a 20 percent penalty on your bill if you don't pay the right amount.

The tax deadline which is traditionally April 15th has been extended this year to Monday, April 18th.