Never thought I’d be happy to do the taxes

Us, at our reception.

It isn’t primarily about the legal stuff, of course. Except when it is.

The last few years our taxes have been very unpleasant. When Washington state voters approved the “everything-but-marriage” domestic partnership referendum a few years ago, our separate incomes became community property. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act forbade the federal government from recognizing our relationship, except that other parts of the tax code (voted in by the same congress critters who passed DOMA) required that anything which your home state considered community property had to be taxed as jointly owned property.

The upshot was that we had to file extra forms, but none of the forms that existed had places for folks in our situation to list the name or social security number of our partner. The first year that was the case, the IRS didn’t properly inform their own people, so same sex couples in the relevant states who filed early had their returns rejected and received letters threatening fines and penalties.

That got straightened out quickly, but the IRS never put out comprehensive instructions for taxpayers in our situation. Even after three years. Everyone was having to refer to one article from a gay rights lawyer posted on the web that walked you through all the different IRS publications—a few rules from this publication, the form from that, and these instructions from this other one. Yes, even the tax professionals were referring to that site.

It was a mess. And we weren’t even allowed to mail our separate filings in the same envelope.

I think the part that peeved my husband most of all was that we weren’t allowed to e-file.

The part that peeved me was not just that the IRS instructions were incomplete, they required a “form” that didn’t actually exist. I kid you not. The IRS had an instruction book for the form, but no form. The instructions told you to make your own form, and had a lot of conditionals. “If you have X kind of property, make a line to describe the property, and list the value. If you are not equal owners of the property, list which percentage each owns on separate lines, and make a space to show each of those values, and a space to enter the total of the values.”

And even though Washington state voters approved full marriage equality in 2012 and we finally got legally married that year, the federal Defense of Marriage Act was still in force for last year’s taxes. So we’d had to do it the crazy complicated way, yet again.

It always took longer than we thought it would, and we both would be cranky and tired by the time we were finished.

Which I’m sure contributed to how long we procrastinated this year.

The most complicated part this year was having to hand type Michael’s W-2 form information into the computer. Which is to say, nothing was complicated.

Michael did get annoyed because he couldn’t find his checkbook when I needed the routing and account number so the refund could be deposited directly into his account. I got annoyed at how often the free online software kept asking me to upgrade to the paid version.

(For the record, I used to pay the small fee for basic software each year and considered it a fair price. Until the first year of the community property stuff, where said software didn’t know how to handle the community property, but insisted if I upgraded to Premium, it would. When I upgraded, the Premium software said that because they were still figuring out how to handle the situation, we should file for an extension, pay our estimated taxes, and wait until June when the software that could handle the filing would probably be ready. I was not pleased. We figured it out on our own, filed, and I complained to the company. They did eventually refund me the money, but I’ve been holding a bit of a grudge ever since.)

Anyway, it went a lot more smoothly than it has in years, and I just about died laughing when I got to the point of printing out the physical copy (after completing our e-filing!) to put in the filing cabinet: our taxes went in on a 1040EZ. That’s a far cry from the two 1040s, plus two sets of extra forms and two cover letters with the recommended verbage explaining that we’re in a same-sex domestic partnership.

Seeing that “Married, Filing Jointly” on the form was pretty magical!


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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. I used to publish an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

2 responses to “Never thought I’d be happy to do the taxes”

  1. Sheryl says :

    I’m confused. I don’t see where in your story your marriage threatens marriages between men and women. I just see you **not** having to fight an unaccommodating system to file your taxes.

    • fontfolly says :

      Supposedly the hassles we had to deal with somehow kept some “traditional” marrqges out of divorce court. Now, I have no idea how those poor people are stayng together knowing that Michael and I filed a single 1040ez this year. The horror!

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