Same-sex couples will be able to file joint tax returns for the 2014 tax year, according to Gov. Sam Brownback’s spokeswoman.
The issue is of huge importance to many gay couples who married last year when the state’s same-sex marriage ban was struck down in November.
Eileen Hawley, the governor’s director of communications, said Tuesday morning that same-sex couples who filed for an extension on their 2014 taxes or who want to amend their 2014 taxes will now be able to file jointly.
The Department of Revenue had said Monday that couples would be able to file jointly for the current 2015 tax year. Those tax returns won’t be submitted and processed until next year.
Hawley said the agency had been reviewing the policy and confirmed that couples will also be able to file jointly for the 2014 tax year.
“It’s about time,” said Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, a gay-rights organization that had been pressing the issue. “Married couples should be able to file their taxes as married.”
He explained that prior to the announcement, married same-sex couples were able to file jointly on their federal returns but were being forced to file separately on their state returns “as though we’re not married.”
The issue also could be significant for whether a federal judge dismisses a pending lawsuit against the revenue department and other state agencies. The state’s attorneys moved last week to dismiss the suit, arguing that agencies were now treating same-sex couples the same as their heterosexual peers.
However, documents filed Tuesday afternoon by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing a group of same-sex couples in the case, allege that state agencies have failed to do this consistently.
Nolin Christensen, a Wichita tax preparer, states in a sworn affidavit that he was informed by the Department of Revenue on Monday that he could not file a joint tax return for two same-sex clients.
Matt Lara, a Topeka resident, stated in another affidavit that he was told he could not change the last name on his driver’s license to match his same-sex spouse on July 10 at a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Topeka, which is several days after other couples were able to do so elsewhere.
Based on this, the ACLU asked the court to deny the state’s motion to dismiss the case.