The latest financial planning twist for same-sex couples

I try to follow developing news for my same-sex couple clients (some now married, some not) and occasionally post something that attempts to summarize or help with planning like this “Financial Planning Checklist for Unmarried Couples” that has turned out to be quite popular.

Recall that in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled on a case that effectively put same-sex couples on equal footing with other couples. I summarized the financial planning impact in this June 27 2013 blog post. Five significant financial planning effects of the legal change were:

1) transfer of property to a spouse during one’s lifetime is now allowed without owing federal gift tax.
2) ability to receive property from a deceased spouse without paying federal estate tax.
3) can now file federal taxes jointly.
4) eligible to receive a spouse’s Social Security benefits.
5) now eligible to receive pension survivorship benefits.

Today I ran across this article by Dave Yoshida at that laments how the so-called “marriage penalty” now increases the combined taxes of some couples with newly recognized marriages. It seems ironic that in the final chapter of the long push for equal rights and recognition for same-sex couples that the latest impact is paying higher income taxes.

The only response that immediately comes to mind is that now our new online tax preparation software allows us to easily compare the total tax for people filing jointly vs. filing separately – either married or single. In the past this would take time and would have cost extra money for this type of tax planning, but now it is built-in feature of tax preparation services. BTW, this service is available both to those who have their tax returns prepared as well as those who file their own taxes. Of course, if you file your own then it it up to you to read the instructions on how to do this type of comparative tax calculation. Read more on the tax services and tax planning software options at


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