By MELINDA DESLATTE
Louisiana’s revenue department won’t recognize same-sex marriages for tax filings, despite a new IRS rule that allows legally married gay couples to file joint federal tax returns and a Louisiana law requiring taxpayers to use the same filing status on state and federal tax forms.
Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield said Louisiana can’t recognize a same-sex marriage tax filing because of its constitutional ban on gay marriage, according to a document outlining the state’s position and obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
The revenue secretary–appointed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, a gay marriage opponent–takes the position that Louisiana’s constitution trumps a state law that directs taxpayers to use the same status on state tax returns that they use on federal returns.
“Louisiana’s secretary of revenue is bound to support and uphold the Constitution and laws of the state of Louisiana, and any recognition of a same-sex filing status in Louisiana as promulgated in (the new Internal Revenue Service rule) would be a clear violation of Louisiana’s Constitution,” Barfield writes in his guidance to taxpayers.
Approved by lawmakers and voters in 2004, the state constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman and declares a legal status of marriage for any other couples “shall not be valid or recognized.”
Barfield writes that a gay couple filing as married on a federal tax return must file a separate Louisiana return as single or head of household, not recognizing the marriage as legitimate in Louisiana. That could deprive same-sex couples of any tax benefits that are granted specifically to married couples in the state.
“The taxpayer must provide the same federal income tax information on the Louisiana State Return that would have been provided prior to the issuance” of the IRS ruling, Barfield writes.
The U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS issued their new rules two weeks ago, saying all legally married gay couples will be able to file joint federal tax returns even if they reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages.
The decision was designed to implement the tax aspects of the Supreme Court’s decision in June that invalidated a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
At least 13 states allow same-sex marriages, while another 35 prohibit them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Barfield’s tax filing decision comes a week after the Louisiana National Guard announced it won’t process requests from same-sex couples seeking benefits, joining Texas in the refusal because of the states’ bans on gay marriage. National Guard personnel have to instead seek to file benefit requests with eight federal military installations around the state for processing.