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Senators to IRS: Fix the Gay Tax Mess

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Boxer, Feinstein among eight senators urging tax agency to help same-sex couples with their returns

Eight democratic U.S. Senators, including California’s Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, are asking the Internal Revenue Service to fix the problems gay couples are having filing their tax returns.

A change last year, originally meant to help same-sex couples in some states take advantage of tax rates offered to heterosexual couples, instead required gay couples to follow complex new rules to file their returns.

The rules were so confusing, most had to hire professional accountants, paying as much as $4,000 for expertise to file their returns. An estimated 60,000 gay couples in California are impacted.

The Bay Citizen was the first to report about the problem back in January. 

In a letter sent to the IRS this week, the senators said: “Today, each of our States recognizes same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships that the federal government does not recognize. When couples in these relationships attempted to calculate their tax returns this year, they encountered significant problems.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

The senators’ intervention comes less than two weeks after another problem related to the situation was exposed: Hundreds of gay couples who followed the new rules had their returns rejected anyway by someone named “J. Bell” in the Fresno IRS office because the couples were not straight.

That controversy, again first reported by The Bay Citizen, led the IRS to do something publicly that the agency rarely does: it apologized.

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