SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Some same-sex couples in New Mexico will get to experience for the first time what married couples go through every spring — sorting through joint tax returns.
Married gay couples will be able to officially file joint returns by April 15.
Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics and Linda Siegle, a lobbyist for Equality New Mexico, told the Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/1cGMOK0) they are happy about filing jointly, but not just because it will mean a bigger tax refund.
“It’s a level of protection that heterosexual couples have that those of us who are gay and lesbian would like to have also, and now . we do,” Siegle said.
They were the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Santa Fe County when the county clerk decided to issue them in August.
The U.S. Supreme Court last summer struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
The federal government then said all same-sex couples’ legal marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes. According to the IRS, gay couples who were legally wed as of Dec. 31, 2013, can amend their tax returns going back to 2010.
The New Mexico Supreme Court decided in December it was unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, making New Mexico the 17th state to recognize same-sex unions.
Peter Doniger, a district coordinator for the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide, said these couples can still file separately. It just depends on which status is more beneficial, he said.
“If they’re legally married, they are in the same boat as anyone who is married . there are not separate rules,” Doniger said.
Claudia Sanchez, a 70-year-old retired nurse who also married her spouse in Santa Fe in August, said just being able to have the option is a joy.
“We’ve felt a sense of complete freedom that we didn’t have before,” Sanchez said. “It’s a sense that other people have taken for granted that we never had.”