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Discussion:Married or Single

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Tax Writer - If the law of the state declares whether they are married or not, then how they file their federal tax return may not be a factor.  In Texas, which recognizes common-law marriage, there are 3 requirements: 1) the man and woman agree to be married, 2) after the agreement they live together in Texas as husband and wife, 3)represent to others that they are married.  While filing your federal return jointly would be more proof of "holding out to others that you are married", it is not one of the requirements listed in the actual law.  So in Texas, for this couple, filing Single probably wouldn't be a valid option.}}
Tax Writer - If the law of the state declares whether they are married or not, then how they file their federal tax return may not be a factor.  In Texas, which recognizes common-law marriage, there are 3 requirements: 1) the man and woman agree to be married, 2) after the agreement they live together in Texas as husband and wife, 3)represent to others that they are married.  While filing your federal return jointly would be more proof of "holding out to others that you are married", it is not one of the requirements listed in the actual law.  So in Texas, for this couple, filing Single probably wouldn't be a valid option.}}
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{{ForumReplyPost|UserID=Trillium|Date=9 April 2014|Text=For Washington state - see Riley's 1/15/09 post here:  [[Discussion:Married - NOT!]].
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''quoting:''
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:There was a recent Tax Court Summary Opinion indicating that Washington state law may allow for marital status if two co-habitating individuals hold themselves out as a married couple. See Eng G. Kang, et al. v. Commissioner, TC Summary Opinion 2001-97.}}

Revision as of 02:15, 9 April 2014

Discussion Forum Index --> Basic Tax Questions --> Married or Single


Discussion Forum Index --> Tax Questions --> Married or Single

Bbla (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
Clients obtained a marriage license, went through with the religious ceremony, after the ceremony the clients did not file the license with the county/state. The clients want to continue to file as single.

The clients are in their 70s and the spouse could lose some benefits if she remarries. They claim that they are married in the eyes of god but are not married according to the state and therefore should be allowed to file as single. I asked if they were sure that the minister did not file the license for them. They claimed he did not. All their friends believe that they are now married. I am buying into their reasoning that they should be able to file as singles because the license was not filed with the state. These marriage license expire after 90 days. Any comments would be appreciated.

CathysTaxes (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
I would ask for proof. Have them contact the county and check for a marriage license. Are you in a common law state?

Trillium (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
Along the same lines as Cathy's question: What state are they in? And what state was the ceremony in?

It seems to me, from my vague recollection of the prior discussions about similar topics (thought they were married, etc.) that state law is key here (edited to add: and that state laws about the relevance of licenses and/or ceremonies differ in unexpected and surprising ways). If you're doing a search on the topic on this site, you might include Mscash or, separately, "Tax Writer" (including the quotes) as a search term, as they are two of the people I seem to remember participating in the discussions.

STG (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
I classify things like this in the category of tax expert, not marriage law expert. To client, "If you are married in accordance with the laws of this state then you are married for the purposes of taxes. Are you sure you are not married by the laws of this state? Perhaps you want to check with a legal expert? No, okay, so you are sure you're not married. That's great. I will file you as single and my notes will reflect that you determined that you were not legally married."

STG (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
Obviously if I knew for a fact that their determination was incorrect my answer would be different, but I'm not in the business of researching the vagaries of marriage laws.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
I don't get it. Gays want to be married, but many straight folks don't want them to, want marriage to mean a religious ceremony reserved for one man and one woman, but in both of these discussions, they throw the religious marriage ceremony out the window saying they don't believe it has consequences in this world. So in other words, the religious straight folks don't even want marriage for themselves.

Umm, something is wrong here!

Coddington (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
Just like the last time this came up, this is a legal question dependent on state law. I participated in one of these discussions here not too long ago. As did Kevin.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
So in other words, the religious straight folks don't even want marriage for themselves.

No, they do want it *except* when it will disqualify them for one benefit or another...

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
yeah, that's a great witness to others of their faith

"We'll lie cheat and steal as long as we can benefit at the expense of everyone else."

I'll bet I know how they vote.

Bbla (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
I checked the County and the Washington State Archives that list Recorded Marriages. Their marriage is not listed (recorded). The only reason they want to file as single is to protect a pension.

I really do not understand why they even went through the process of getting a license and the ceremony unless they wanted their friends to think they were married. Washington State is not a common law state. Does a marriage license have to be recorded to be legal. They are not interested in asking a lawyer for the answer. I remember when you could not even buy liquor on Sunday. Now it is legal to smoke pot, drink and buy liquor on Sunday at your local store, same sex marriage, claim your only married in the eyes of god, and whatever else. The times have changed.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
The only reason they want to file as single is to protect a pension.

Of course. We all know a few people like this...

I really do not understand why they even went through the process of getting a license and the ceremony unless they wanted their friends to think they were married.

A, you get wedding gifts. B, it's a big trick.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
Because they're lying, cheating, stealing kind of people, Bbla. That's who they are.

Tax Writer (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
They're both still single for tax purposes, even in a commonlaw state, both parties have to agree to "file as though they were married", and it looks like they would lose money doing so. The dollar wins again. And yes, they probably wanted their friends to think that they were married.

Eh, who cares? Blame congress for the marriage penalty that applies in so many of these cases. I hope they realize that NOT being married can have serious legal repercussions, too, especially for older couples. Just wait until one of them dies. The surviving "spouse" is going to have a tough time if they have any shared assets.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

8 April 2014
Because they're lying, cheating, stealing kind of people, Bbla. That's who they are.

...always angling for some some self-serving benefit.

Joan TB (talk|edits) said:

9 April 2014
They're both still single for tax purposes, even in a commonlaw state, both parties have to agree to "file as though they were married",

Tax Writer - If the law of the state declares whether they are married or not, then how they file their federal tax return may not be a factor. In Texas, which recognizes common-law marriage, there are 3 requirements: 1) the man and woman agree to be married, 2) after the agreement they live together in Texas as husband and wife, 3)represent to others that they are married. While filing your federal return jointly would be more proof of "holding out to others that you are married", it is not one of the requirements listed in the actual law. So in Texas, for this couple, filing Single probably wouldn't be a valid option.

Trillium (talk|edits) said:

9 April 2014
For Washington state - see Riley's 1/15/09 post here: Discussion:Married - NOT!.

quoting:

There was a recent Tax Court Summary Opinion indicating that Washington state law may allow for marital status if two co-habitating individuals hold themselves out as a married couple. See Eng G. Kang, et al. v. Commissioner, TC Summary Opinion 2001-97.
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