Ryan Wilson wants to be able to file a joint tax return with his husband.
Oran Smith thinks allowing gay couples to file joint taxes waters down SC's constitutional amendment.
A bill filed this week in the South Carolina House would allow gay couples who were legally married in other states to file joint state tax returns here.
House Majority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, introduced the bill.
Ryan Wilson, executive director of SC Equality, says, "My husband and I were married in Maryland in January of last year, so this would be the first year that we will file taxes as a married couple, because the federal government requires that we report that we are married and file jointly. But then when it comes to the South Carolina filing, we'll have to do a second federal return that will only be sent to the state. So we basically have to do twice as much paperwork.”
Since the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, there’s no way for gay married couples to file their state returns online, which means their tax returns have to be processed by hand. Wilson says that will cost the state additional money.
"We're not asking South Carolina to grant same-sex marriages. We're asking that the marriages that have already been granted by other states, under the U.S. Constitution, be given equal processing," he says.
But Dr. Oran Smith, executive director of Palmetto Family, which helped push for the 2006 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman, says it’s not just a matter of tax returns.
"South Carolina voted in 2006, by a 78 percent margin, to say that marriage is between one man and one woman,” he says. “Anything that takes away from that we're opposed to. We think it would water down what our constitutional amendment said."
Wilson says it’s almost impossible to estimate whether passing the bill would bring in more tax dollars for the state or less, because there’s no exact count of how many married gay couples there are in the state, how much money they make, or what deductions they would take. He says some couples he knows would end up paying less if they were able to file jointly, while others would pay more taxes.