Politics & Government

Kansas will accept joint tax returns from married same-sex couples

The Kansas Department of Revenue will now accept joint tax returns from same-sex couples.

Attorneys for the state filed a motion in federal court to dismiss a lawsuit against state agencies for not recognizing same-sex marriages. The brief contended that agencies were now treating same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples, eliminating the need for litigation.

“Driver license applications are being handled in the same manner for all married couples whatever the gender of the parties,” the brief said. “And Kansas income tax returns filed jointly are now being accepted for all married couples.”

Earlier in the week, the Kansas Department of Revenue said it was still studying the issue of joint filing for same-sex couples. Spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda confirmed in an e-mail Thursday that “Going forward, same sex couples who are legally married will be able to file joint tax returns.”

The agency made no formal announcement of the change prior to the court filing.

A federal court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in November, but Gov. Sam Brownback advised agencies to make no changes to policies while the appeal remained pending.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage, state agencies have gradually begun changing policies. The state’s attorneys say the policy changes make the federal case moot.

Doug Bonney, chief counsel of the Kansas chapter of the ACLU, who is representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said there still are issues that need to be resolved and the case should not be dismissed. He would not go into more detail.

One issue may be whether same-sex couples are owed back taxes from the state. Two men who had married in California filed a lawsuit against the Department of Revenue in 2013 for its refusal to allow them to file their taxes jointly.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.