Xyzzy in the comments thread on yesterday's post about I-1077, the income tax initiative:
This measure is outrageous. This creates a direct financial pentalty for being gay. If you're gay, well off and married or in a domestic partnernerhsip, you'll pay more taxes than an identical straight married couple with identical finances. It's creating an extra "gay tax."
My husband and I are perfect examples of people who will be hit hard by this. I have a comfortable salary in the mid $200Ks as an attorney; he has a salary of about $30K working at a nonprofit. I'm not asking for any sympathy. We're definitely fortunate to be well-off, and I'm a firm believer in progressive taxation where people with higher incomes should pay more.
We were legally married in California two years ago (before Proposition 8 passed), and as further insurance we registered last November as domestic partners in Seattle, where we live, after R-71 was defeated. We've done everything possible to have our thirteen-year relationship recognized and to be treated equally.
Under DOMA, we already have to pay one "gay penalty" tax to the IRS. We're both treated as "single" according to the IRS. Because of this, we pay several thousand dollars more in federal taxes each year than a straight married couple with identical finances. That's an extra tax for being gay. That's on top of the indignity of being told by the IRS that we're both "single" and nothing more than roommates.
Under the new proposed referendum, we'll again be treated as "single" people in our own state — where we've followed the rules and registered as domestic partners, supposedly with all of the benefits and obligations as straight-married couples. The proposed new system will codify discrimination by treating gay couples differently than straight couples for purposes of taxation. Because my income is above the $200,000 threshhold for "singles," we'll have to pay extra taxes. If we were stratight and married, we would not have to pay these taxes. This is another tax for being gay.
Other states, like Massachusetts, have avoided this with their income taxes by allowing gay married couples to file separate tax forms, in which they are taxed under state law the same as straight married couples. It's cumbersome (a lot of extra paperwork), but it works, and it shows the state's dignity and respect for its gay citizens. It's appalling that the organizers of this referendum have not considered such a system here.
I fully support the intent of this referendum — I'll be the first in line to pay additional taxes, as long as it's nondiscriminatory. Unless this referendum is fixed, however, I ask everyone who supports equality to OPPOSE this referendum. I hate that we might have to align ourselves with the Tim Eyemans and the other right wing, antitax wingnuts, but we can't codify antigay discrimination into our tax laws.
"You are right that there is an issue here," Sandeep Kaushik, spokesperson for the I-1077 (and Stranger alum), writes in an email. "We are working on it now to find a way to make sure, if I-1077 passes, that domestic partners are treated fairly under the law."
Trust us, says Kaushik, we'll fix this discriminatory law if it passes, somehow or other. Better to fix it now, before it passes, by refiling. (And for the record: unlike Xyzzy here, this law will not impact me and my partner. We pay the unable-to-get-married penalty as things stand now, since my partner is a stay-at-home dad, but I don't make enough money—despite the hype—to get dinged by the proposed state income tax.)