Same-Sex Joint Filers

Tax Years before 2013

The Federal Defense of Marriage Act: (DOMA) – Prior to 2013:
The terms "marriage" and "spouse" differed in meaning between Massachusetts and federal law. Federal law stated that the word "marriage" meant only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word "spouse" referred only to a person of the opposite sex who was a husband or a wife. Since federal law did not recognize same-sex civil marriage, same-sex spouses remained as individual filers for federal purposes.

Where elements of Massachusetts taxation derived from federal law, such as the definition of gross income, or state deductions based on a federal counterpart, same-sex spouses had to  perform special calculations to arrive at the proper Massachusetts tax figure.

Head of Household Filing Federally Were Not Eligible for Massachusetts Purposes:
Same-sex spouses who filed as head of household federally were generally not be eligible to file as head of household for Massachusetts purposes. The term "head of household" as used in Massachusetts derives from the federal definition, which generally allows the status only for unmarried people. Since the spouses were married under state law, applying the federal definition rendered them generally ineligible for head of household status .

Special Calculations to Arrive at the Proper Massachusetts Tax:
For certain deductions exemption, credit etc., that are based on Federal income amounts, same-sex joint filers had to combine the amounts from their federal returns (pro-forma 1040) to arrive at the amount to be reported on the Massachusetts joint return.

Tax Years Before 2004:
Before May 16, 2004, since Massachusetts did not recognize the right of same-sex couples to be married, same sex couples were required to file as individuals.


Massachusetts References: