Back in September we wrote about changing tax policies as they apply to same-sex married couples, who are now able to file jointly for federal income tax purposes. At that time we were still waiting for guidance on state tax filings here in Georgia, where the state does not recognize same-sex marriages. This presented some potential complexities for same-sex couples with a marriage recognized by the federal government, since they would have a different tax status on their state return.

The main conflict is that Georgia tax law specifically references one’s filing status as a starting point for their state return, so new policies needed to be set out to instruct same-sex couples on how to proceed in order to avoid a mistake on their tax return that could result in underpaid taxes or another type of tax dispute. Recently the Georgia Department of Revenue stepped in, issuing guidelines on this exact problem.

The guidelines indicate that Georgia constitutional law supersedes tax code, which means that the Georgia Department of Revenue will not be accepting returns from married same-sex couples who file jointly. It also means that couples must recalculate their Federal Adjusted Gross Income to fit with their status under Georgia law, rather than taking the Federal Adjusted Gross Income number from their federal return as they normally would.

These types of complexities can cause problems for some taxpayers, since their understanding or their accountant’s understanding of the situation might not have been completely commensurate with the state’s interpretation of current tax laws. If that results in underpayment of taxes then a conflict could arise between the taxpayer and the state.

Source: GA Voice, “Ga. Department of Revenue issues guidelines for same-sex couples filing state tax returns,” Dyana Bagby, Oct. 28, 2013.