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Income Tax Filing Status for Same-Sex Couples

Posted: November 29, 2013


State Income Tax Filing Status Guidance for Same-Sex Couples who file Joint Federal Income Tax Returns


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled on August 29, 2013, that same-sex couples legally married in any state must file a joint Form 1040 or two returns filing separately with the IRS, regardless of the marriage law of the state where they live. IRS officials said the ruling was made to provide certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance. The IRS ruling applies to all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes.


Colorado’s state tax code is directly tied to that of the federal government and uses Federal Taxable Income as the starting point of its state income tax return. Therefore, it is necessary for every Colorado taxpayer to file their state income tax return using the same filing status that they elected on their federal income tax return. Departing from federal tax filing status would require the recalculation of taxable income and would impose significant difficulties in the administration of Colorado personal income tax. Colorado taxpayers must use the  same filing status on state tax returns as elected on federal tax returns to utilize information from their federal tax return when completing their Colorado state income tax return.


To provide Colorado taxpayers with clarity about how to file state income taxes in light of the August 2013 IRS ruling, the Department of Revenue has promulgated an emergency regulation. The department recommends taxpayers review the IRS ruling and the emergency rule and consult with a tax advisor regarding tax filing status questions.