Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Same-Sex Couples From IRS

The following questions and answers provide information to same-sex domestic partners, same-sex individuals in civil unions and same-sex couples whose marriage is recognized by state law (for convenience, these individuals are referred to as “same-sex couples” and each individual is referred to as a “same-sex partner” in these questions and answers). Below this information are questions and answers for same-sex couples who reside in community property states and are subject to their state’s community property laws:

Q. Can same-sex partners who are legally married for state law purposes file federal tax returns using a married filing jointly or married filing separately status?

A. No. Same-sex partners may not file using a married filing separately or jointly filing status because federal law does not treat same-sex partners as married for federal tax purposes.

Q. Can a taxpayer use the head-of-household filing status if the taxpayer’s only dependent is his or her same-sex partner?

A. No. A taxpayer cannot file as head of household if the taxpayer’s only dependent is his or her same-sex partner. A taxpayer’s same-sex partner is not one of the related individuals described in the law that qualifies the taxpayer to file as head of household, even if the same-sex partner is the taxpayer’s dependent.

Q. If a child is a qualifying child under section 152(c) of both parents who are same-sex partners, which parent may claim the child as a dependent?

A. If a child is a qualifying child under section 152(c) of both parents who are same-sex partners, either parent, but not both, may claim a dependency deduction for the qualifying child. If both parents claim a dependency deduction for the child on their income tax returns, the IRS will treat the child as the qualifying child of the parent with whom the child resides for the longer period of time. If the child resides with each parent for the same amount of time during the taxable year, the IRS will treat the child as the qualifying child of the parent with the higher adjusted gross income.

Q. Can a same-sex partner itemize deductions if his or her partner claims a standard deduction?

A. Yes. A same-sex partner may itemize or claim the standard deduction regardless of whether his or her partner itemizes or claims the standard deduction. Although the law prohibits one spouse from itemizing deductions if the other spouse claims the standard deduction (section 63(c)(6)(A)), same-sex partners are not spouses as defined by federal law, and this provision does not apply to them.

Q. If a same-sex couple adopts a child together, can one or both of the same-sex partners qualify for the adoption credit?

A. Yes. Each same-sex partner may qualify to claim the adoption credit on the amount of the qualified adoption expenses paid or incurred for the adoption. The same-sex partners may not both claim credit for the same qualified adoption expenses, and neither same-sex partner may claim more than the amount of expenses that he or she paid or incurred. The adoption credit is limited to $13,360 per child in 2011. Thus, if two same-sex partners each paid qualified adoption expenses to adopt the same child, and the total of those expenses exceeds $13,360, the maximum credit available for the adoption is $13,360. The same-sex partners may allocate this maximum between them in any way they agree, but the amount allocated to a same-sex partner may not be more than the amount of expenses he or she paid or incurred. The same rules generally apply in the case of a special needs adoption. The total credit for such an adoption is limited to $13,360, but the amount that each same-sex partner may claim is not limited by the amount of expenses paid or incurred.

Q. If a taxpayer adopts the child of his or her same-sex partner as a second parent or co-parent, may the taxpayer (“adopting parent”) claim the adoption credit for the qualifying adoption expenses he or she pays or incurs to adopt the child?

A. Yes. The adopting parent may claim an adoption credit to the extent provided under the law. The law does not allow taxpayers to claim an adoption credit for expenses incurred in adopting the child of the taxpayer’s spouse. However, this limitation does not apply to adoptions by same-sex partners because same-sex partners, even if married for state law purposes, are not treated as spouses under federal law.

Q. Do provisions of the federal tax law such as section 66 (treatment of community income) and section 469(i)(5) (passive loss rules for rental real estate activities) that apply to married taxpayers apply to same-sex partners?

A. No. Like other provisions of the federal tax law that apply only to spouses or married taxpayers, section 66 and section 469(i)(5) do not apply to same-sex partners because federal law does not treat same-sex partners as married for federal tax purposes.

Q. Is a same-sex partner the stepparent of his or her partner’s child?

A. If a same-sex partner is the stepparent of his or her partner’s child under the laws of the state in which the partners reside, then the same-sex partner is the stepparent of the child for federal income tax purposes.

Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Male role models, gender role traits, and psychological adjustment

By Henny Bos, Naomi Goldberg, Loes Van Gelderen, Nanette Gartrell June 2012

The absence of male role models did not adversely affect the psychological adjustment of 17-year-old teens raised in lesbian-headed households, based on teens who participated in the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS). The study is part of a growing body of research that evinces the positive psychological well-being of children reared in planned lesbian families. Approximately half of the teens had male role models. The NLLFS teens with and without male role models did not differ from each other in psychological well-being, and also did not differ on stereotypical feminine (e.g., understanding) and masculine (e.g., competitive) traits. No differences were found in the well-being of those with and without male role models, or between girls and boys. There was no empirical evidence suggesting that boys require a same-sex parent, or male role model, to develop a healthy psychological well-being.

To read the complete article, click here.

How and Why I Am Outspoken

By Ella Robinson – From The Family Equality Council Website – June 19, 2012

I have had a very public and unusual opportunity to speak up in support of my gay Dads: we all went on the Today show together. It was after Dad was elected the 9thEpiscopal Bishop of New Hampshire and I accompanied him, and his then partner (now husband) Mark to chat with Matt Lauer. I was there to dispel the misconceptions that he “abandoned his wife and kids to shack up with a gay lover” as certain newspaper headlines had proclaimed throughout his Bishop Election process. Truth was, my sister and I couldn’t have gotten rid of him if we tried! He has been such a devoted and committed father to us from the day we were born, through the divorce, childhood into adolescents and now as adults. By becoming the first openly gay Bishop, our little family was thrown into the spotlight in a major way, and I couldn’t have been more proud.

That is the ‘Bishop’ side of the story though. I like sharing the Dad side – the side of the story that focuses on the overwhelming love I felt growing up with Dad and Mark, way before any Bishop talk occurred. Their relationship, which started when I was 7 years old, was such an important example of what a loving, committed relationship should look like that I never thought to question it. I never knew to be embarrassed if someone looked at our family differently, or to worry if my friend coming to my Dad’s with me for the weekend would be uncomfortable. I just knew we’d have fun, watch The Golden Girls and play some board games (competitively). I credit Dad and Mark for giving me the tools to know how to talk about having gay parents when I was out in the world, and doing their part to make it easier for me whenever they could. I look back now in awe that at a very young age, I had such confidence in the love and strength of my family to not let anyone tell me differently.

To read the entire article, click here.

APA Blasts Allegedly Biased Report on Gay Parents

BY Neal Broverman

June 14 2012

A recent study called into question the ability of gay parents to raise well-rounded children, but the report has been widely blasted as biased, manipulative, and agenda-based. Now the American Psychological Association has stepped in to reiterate its belief that gay parents are just as good as straight parents.

“On the basis of a remarkably consistent body of research on lesbian and gay parents and their children, the American Psychological Association and other health, professional, and scientific organizations have concluded that there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation,” the APA announced on its website earlier this week. “That is, lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children. This body of research has shown that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children are unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish.”

The APA was responding to the “New Family Structures Study,” which called into question the effectiveness of gay parenting. But according to several equality groups, the study is majorly flawed.

According to a joint press release from the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, Family Equality Council, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the paper was “written by rightwing author Mark Regnerus (of the Department of Sociology and Population Center at the University of Texas at Austin) and funded in large part by the antigay Witherspoon Institute.” It “makes a number of claims about negative outcomes for children raised by gay and lesbian parents. However, for the most part, the paper doesn’t even look at same-sex couples raising a child together in a longterm committed relationship.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Protecting Kids and Families in North Carolina

By James Esseks, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project June 13, 2012

We’ve just filed a new federal case in North Carolina to ensure that kids being raised by lesbian or gay parents can have legally protected relationships with both of the parents who are raising them. North Carolina bans second parent adoption – which is the name for that kind of protection – and the stories of two of our plaintiff families illustrate just how harmful the ban is.

Crystal Hendrix and Leigh Smith are raising two children together, 2-year-old Quinn and Joe, their baby. Crystal carried each of them and of course is recognized as their mother. But Leigh, the stay-at-home mom, can’t become a legal parent because of the ban on second parent adoption. Crystal’s parents have never accepted the women’s relationship, so both Crystal and Leigh have a real concern about what would happen if Crystal were to die or become legally incapacitated, with Leigh remaining a legal stranger to the kids.

Click here to read the entire article.

How Should We Talk to Boys About Sexual Abuse?

June 12, 2012, 3:21 pm


Have you talked with your sons and daughters about the Jerry Sandusky case, and if you have, what did you say? Opening arguments in the trial against Mr. Sandusky, along with Amos Kamil’s New York Times Magazine story this weekend about sexual abuse at the Horace Mann School in New York City, have me revisiting what I’ve said to my children — in particular, my oldest son.

“When I was at Horace Mann,” Mr. Kamil wrote, giving a little back story on the 6th Floor blog, “all of these stories were swirling around us. Some of it was rumor, some of it was conjecture, some of it was latent homophobia.” Thirty years and more after the fact, the young men at the center of some of those stories shared them with Mr. Kamil (although he writes that young women, too, suffered at the hands of the teachers and administration at Horace Mann, those aren’t the stories he tells).

It’s the “latent homophobia” Mr. Kamil describes that leaves me wondering if saying the same things to my son as I do to my daughter about sexual abuse is enough. I can talk about inappropriate touching, I can talk about it being fine to leave anyone and anywhere that makes them uncomfortable. I can talk about how if they come to me, at any time, I will believe them, and I will protect them.

To read the entire article, click here.


Conservative Author Behind New Paper Marked by Poor Methodology, Faulty Conclusions

Joint release from glaad, Freedom to Marry, HRC and Family Equality Council June 12, 2012

Washington, DC – A flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound paper that seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents was roundly criticized today by organizations that protect and advance the freedoms and equality of Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

The paper, “New Family Structures Study,” written by right-wing author Mark Regnerus (of the Department of Sociology and Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin) and funded in large part by the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, makes a number of claims about negative outcomes for children raised by gay and lesbian parents.  However, for the most part, the paper doesn’t even look at same-sex couples raising a child together in a long-term committed relationship.

The Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) pointed out that numerous flaws and a biased agenda undermine the claims made by the paper.

“Flawed methodology and misleading conclusions all driven by a right-wing ideology,” said Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council. “That alone should raise doubts about the credibility of this author’s work. But on top of that, his paper doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring.”

“Because of its serious flaws, this so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

Griffin and Chrisler added that those conclusions are backed up by every major child welfare organization—whose sole objective is to ensure child welfare– along with the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of Social Workers, who all confirm that LGBT parents make good parents.

Chrisler also said that these 30 years of research are grounded in the day-to-day reality witnessed by millions of Americans.

“Everyday people in this country see real-life examples of the love, commitment and caring these parents provide to their children, said Chrisler. “These parents are raising their children to be kind to their friends and neighbors, support their communities and uphold American values.  One biased paper cannot undo the truth nor demean the value of these families.”

Regnerus is well known for his ultra-conservative ideology and the paper was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation – two groups commonly known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute also has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said it is these anti-gay groups and their dangerous ideologies that, in fact, create some of the biggest legal, social, and economic challenges that LGBT families do face.

“The two million kids being raised by 1 million gay parents in this country are doing great, and would do even better if their parents didn’t have to deal with legal discrimination such as the denial of the freedom to marry, and ongoing attacks such as this kind of pseudo-scientific misinformation and the disinformation agenda that’s funding it,” said Wolfson.

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick added, “A growing majority of Americans today already realize the harms this kind of junk science inflicts on loving families. If the media decides that this paper is worth covering, journalists have a responsibility to inform their audiences about the serious and glaring flaws in its methodology, and about the biased views of its author and funders.”

Key problems with the “New Family Structures Study” include:
The paper is fundamentally flawed and intentionally misleading. It doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring. Most of the children examined in the paper were not being raised by parents in a committed same-sex relationship—whereas the other children in the study were being raised in two-parent homes with straight parents.

Given its fundamental flaws and ideological agenda, it’s not surprising that the paper doesn’t match the 30 years of solid scientific research on gay and lesbian parents and families. That research has been reviewed by child welfare organizations like the Child Welfare League of America, the National Adoption Center, the National Association of Social Workers and others whose only priority is the health and welfare of children and that research has led them to strongly support adoption by lesbian and gay parents.

In addition, the paper’s flaws highlight the disconnect between its claims about gay parents and the lived experiences of 2 million children in this country being raised by LGBT parents.  Americans know that their LGBT friends, family members and neighbors are wonderful parents and are providing loving and happy homes to children.

The paper fails to consider the impact of family arrangement or family transitions on children, invalidating any attempt on its part to assess the impact of sexual orientation on parenting.  The paper inappropriately compares children raised by two heterosexual parents for 18 years with children who experience family transitions – like foster care – or who live with single or divorced parents, or in blended families. Moreover, the limited number of respondents arbitrarily classified as having a gay or lesbian parent are combined regardless of their experiences of family instability.