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Hi, I’m Tim Mayclin, CPA from Rohnert Park, California. There’s been a few changes in the law regarding same sex marriages over the past couple years, and tax situation has become more difficult in some areas and less in others.

Federal tax law now agrees that same sex marriages, if they were married in a state that allows same sex marriages, will be treated as married for federal purposes. If the state, such as California allows Registered Domestic Partners (RDP), that is not recognized by the federal government. Those people will have to file a single return or head of household, depending on their situation, for federal purposes. Then in states such as California, they will file a joint return since they are considered to be married in California. This can lead to some confusing tax situations.

An RDP in California would file a single return. However, since it’s community property in California, on the federal return the income needs to be split 50-50 between each of the RDP partners, and then on the California return it would be filed as jointly. This can be a lengthy process and quite confusing.

Married couples, on the other hand for federal, now file jointly just like a traditional married couple, so all of their income is reported on a single return. However, if they want to file married filing separately they, again, have to follow the community property laws which says 50% of all the income gets reported on each partner. Estimated tax payments are never split; they’re reported on the person that has filed the estimated taxes. Withholding on W2s and 1099s and such, that gets split 50-50.

If you need help or more information about this topic please contact your local CPA.