Income tax season is the busiest time of the year for Tulsa certified public accountant Kelly Kirby, who prepares about 400 returns.
It's also a reminder that he and his partner of 14 years often pay more taxes, because they're not allowed to file jointly as a married couple.
“All of us want to pay our taxes but not more than we're legally obligated to,” Kirby said.
According to census data, there were more than 9,800 same-sex partner households in Oklahoma in 2010.
A new study by CNN Money and H&R Block shows that same-sex couples could be paying thousands of dollars more in taxes than heterosexual married couples.
Kirby, 58, married Charles Johnston, 53, in 2008 in California. They have a marriage license, but must file single returns because Oklahoma and the federal government only recognize marriage between a man and woman.
He said it would be beneficial for the two to file together because they make significantly different salaries and the standard deduction for a married couple might save them money and put them in a lower tax bracket.
“They don't respect our relationship,” he said. “They don't acknowledge our relationship.”
The study looked at same-sex couples and married couples in various scenarios for its assessment of tax liabilities. It shows that some same-sex spouses would have a lower liability, while others would have an increased liability.
Gil Charney, principal tax analyst at the Tax Institute at H&R Block, said the study only takes a look at income tax, but he said there are many issues that same-sex couples need to look at and plan for.
“A same-sex couple should get professional advice as to what effect the relationship has on their total tax and financial planning situation, including state tax planning,” he said.
Since the Internal Revenue Service is bound by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples are not allowed to file jointly as married couples. If they were able to, they would receive $11,600 as a standard deduction off their total 2011 income and $3,700 for exemptions.
Paula Ross, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Tax Commission, said state returns follow federal tax laws, which means Oklahoma same-sex couples cannot file jointly in their state tax returns either.
The study reports that some same-sex couples earn disparate amounts of income and aren't able to combine their incomes and deductions. H&R Block also notes in its study that “employer provided health insurance for same-sex spouses is considered taxable income, causing a greater amount of income to be taxable than similarly situated married filing jointly filers.”