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The good news first: In many cases, if not most, filing taxes as a same-sex married couple in New York state should be as straightforward as it is for straight couples. The bad news: Well, it’s taxes. And taxes can be complicated and tedious.
Some Background First
In 2011, same-sex marriage became legal in New York state. It was already legal in a few other states, and in 2015, it became legal everywhere in the United States. You may have filed as a married same-sex couple on your state taxes since the 2011 tax year and, in 2015/2016, switched to married on your federal taxes as well. (This page breaks down what you were legally required to do.)
If you filed as single until your 2016 return so that you would have the same information on your federal and state returns, it’s possible you could get some money by amending state and federal returns from prior years. To be legally safe, you should amend any state returns from prior years that need changing.
If you transferred property during the past few years or did anything that may have changed due to the recognition of same-sex marriage, it may be a good idea to consult with an accountant.
Now to the Present
Now it’s 2017, and for the most part, same-sex married couples in New York can file taxes just as their heterosexually married counterparts do. A few considerations, though:
If you are married and adopt the child your partner gave birth to, you cannot claim the adoption tax credit. On the other hand, if you have yet to marry, you can claim the credit. Of course, the two of you should discuss whether getting married before the child is born is better for your family, both financially and emotionally.
Suppose you file taxes as married filing separately. Further suppose that one of you has yet to adopt a child who the other partner gave birth to or is the biological parent of. The legal parent is the one who should claim the dependency deduction.
Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York. He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.