The editorial board of the Salt Lake Tribune is calling for Utah’s legally married same-sex couples to “ignore the tax commission” ruling that says they cannot file their state taxes jointly.
“That’s right. We’re recommending you not follow this rule, even though it’s generally considered a crime to purposely violate state tax law,” the editorial states. “In this case, there is a wealth of law on your side, and this rule is a last gasp from a frustrated group who fought and lost the battle to keep you from marrying.”
After the U.S. Supreme Court declared a large section of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that legally married same-sex couples could file their federal income taxes jointly. Five weeks later, the Utah Tax Commission released a rule that these couples in Utah must complete a false IRS form for the purposes of filing their state taxes. Gay advocates called the ruling unfair and an additional burden on same-sex couples.
“The tax commission’s rule is a product of legal advice given by the Utah Attorney General’s office, which is headed by John Swallow. Yes, that’s the same John Swallow who has demonstrated extremely poor judgment in interacting with suspected and convicted criminals,” the editorial continues. “John Swallow doesn’t think he has done anything wrong, but he thinks you have.”
The editorial board says that it is highly unlikely that the Utah Tax Commission would catch a same-sex couple filing jointly, given that thousands of couples file each year.
Commission Chairman Bruce Johnson, who announced the ruling, said that enforcement of the Utah tax policy would be difficult, if not impossible.
“I don’t know that we’d have any mechanism to catch that,” he told the Tribune. “At this point, we have no intention to put anything on the return to flag that.”
Johnson also said that the ruling was made without going to the full commission for a vote. He acknowledged that a vote would have been a good idea, though not legally necessary.
“It would be entirely appropriate if somebody wanted to ask us to address this in an open meeting,” he said.
The Tribune board wrote that same-sex marriage will be the rule of the land sometime soon, as even Justice Anton Scalia said the “writing is on the wall.”
“Instead of trying to figure out which one of you should take the mortgage deduction, just file jointly. This is America, not some backward nation that will kill your hard-fought rights,” the editorial ended.