Kansas finally confirms it will let same-sex couples marry…but not file their taxes together

Yesterday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued an executive order that prevents the state from taking action against religious groups or members of the clergy if they refuse services to same-sex couples.

The order followed confirmation from state agencies earlier in the day that the state will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — becoming the last state to do so.

However, Kansas isn’t ready to let all marriages be created equal. The state will recognize same-sex marriages when issuing identification and enrolling in health insurance exchanges, but will not allow same-sex couples to jointly file their taxes.

This, from a red state government that would presumably want to make tax season more efficient and less complicated for its citizens. From Dominic Holden at Buzzfeed:

“The department is still reviewing policy and procedures for tax filings,” Jeannine Koranda, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Revenue, told BuzzFeed News. Like the governor’s office and officials who manage state health insurance programs, Koranda said the hold up is caused by an ongoing review of the Supreme Court decision.

“We have been in the process of going through all the department’s policies and procedures to see what may need to be changed. It takes time to make sure everything is done correctly and nothing is missed,” Koranda said.

But Thomas Witt, the executive director of Kansas Equality, told BuzzFeed News the delays are merely “foot-dragging.”

“All they have to do as a state government is stop enforcing certain laws,” said Witt, whose LGBT rights group exerted pressure on state officials this past week to honor the high court’s decision. “All the state has to do is stop rejecting the tax returns of same-sex couples. This is not rocket science.”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

No other state has experienced this kind of delay in confirming that same-sex couples will be entitled to all of the rights afforded to their heterosexual counterparts, and it’s unclear as to which “policies and procedures” would apply unequally such that any change is necessary. I’m no expert on Kansas’s tax policy, but my guess would be that a marriage certificate entitles you to file jointly with whomever else is on that marriage certificate — regardless as to whether you and that other person are of the same gender.

As Witt said, this whole problem is solved if the state simply stops rejecting the tax returns for same-sex couples.

As Holden noted, neither of the state agencies in question — the ones that deal with taxation and health insurance exchanges — made their respective decisions on orders from Governor Brownback. Both were the result of internal reviews — even if none were necessary. This would explain why one is recognizing same-sex marriages and the other isn’t.

413 same-sex couples have been married across all of Kansas’s 105 counties. Sooner or later, they will be allowed to file their taxes together. The question is only how long the state can drag its feet.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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8 Responses to “Kansas finally confirms it will let same-sex couples marry…but not file their taxes together”

  1. Qwertyy650 says:

    Let’s hope the foot-dragging ends before Dec 31. And if not, sue them. I got married the first year it was legal here in Delaware and am saving thousands of dollars on taxes as a result.

  2. Butch1 says:

    Let him try; his days of screwing with gays are over.

  3. GayEGO says:

    This is outrageous and is just another sneaky way to make more tax money from the LGBTs who would otherwise save money by being able to file their taxes jointly. I know, my lifetime partner and I of 53 years, marriage in Massachusetts 11 years, saved $3000 last year because we were able to file our federal/state taxes jointly.

  4. Hue-Man says:

    Question: If you married in 2005 and have been resident in Kansas throughout, can you file any amended state returns to file jointly? Is there a risk you’re married filing separately instead of single? I wouldn’t put it past them to persecute lesbian and gay couples!

  5. BeccaM says:

    If hetero couples are permitted to file joint state returns in Kansas — and particularly if there is any kind of advantageous tax benefits or rates in doing so — and the state denies this privilege to same-sex couples, this won’t stand in court.

    Like I keep saying: The fight for marriage equality is not over.

  6. dcinsider says:

    This won’t stand and they will be ordered to comply. Kansas citizens gained the right to file joint state and federal returns on June 26, 2015, during the 2015 tax year. Meaning that when they file their 2015 tax returns in 2016, they will be permitted to file jointly. No federal court is going to permit Kansas to violate federal tax law. This is all smoke and mirrors. We won.

  7. Outspoken1 says:

    Wow, Kansas can rewrite the Federal tax code! Well, they re-write science all the time anyway! Sheesh…

  8. caphillprof says:

    As a person with Kansas income, I must file a Kansas tax return. I am same sex married but reside outside of Kansas in the civilized world. I note this because your story does not contemplate the reality of taxation. One need not live there or be a citizen there, to be taxed there.

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