Today is Tax Day, and while families across the state and nation are scrambling to submit last-minute returns, Tonya and Melanie Puskar-Blakeley are reflecting on the process. The Glendale couple has been legally married since 2008, but since Arizona does not recognize their union, filing for taxes has a whole other level of complication.
In an op-ed Melanie penned for the Advocate, she discusses what the tax process has been like for her family this year. Since the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act was struck down last summer, this is the first year legally married same-sex couples have been able to file their federal taxes together. While this is a huge step forward for our nation, couples who live in states without the freedom to marry are still being treated as legal strangers, including in Arizona.
In the op-ed, Melanie explains what a burden filing separate state taxes has been on her family:
“As soon as we e-filed our joint federal form, it was time for of each of us to begin again from scratch. We each had to fill out our own 1040 as if we were strangers, as if we don’t share our home in Glendale, Ariz., as if we don’t have four children together.
Arizona doesn’t recognize our legal marriage and therefore doesn’t recognize the joint adjusted gross income that we gave to the federal government. So we began again — Tonya took the mortgage interest deduction and the children became, once again, just my dependents.
The act of divorcing our lives on paper, each checking the “single” box, so that we can satisfy Arizona’s discriminatory tax system makes liars out of us and is depressing, to say the least.”
By refusing to recognize legally married couples, the state of Arizona – under Governor Brewer’s leadership – forces a harmful and unnecessary burden on loving couples across the state who can file jointly on their federal tax return but are seen as legal strangers where they live.
Why Marriage Matters Arizona knows that same-sex couples and their families deserve better—and that’s why we are circulating a petition asking Governor Brewer to allow legally married same-sex couples to file for state taxes together. While it is too late to file together this tax season, if we work together, we can make sure this discriminatory treatment does not continue next year.