By Marc Kovac
A Republican lawmaker from the Cincinnati area wants to change a state tax policy that he says penalizes married heterosexuals.
Rep. John Becker told members of the Ohio House’s Ways and Means Committee this week that state law should be changed to allow such couples to file their state taxes separately instead of jointly.
Current Ohio law requires husbands and wives to file their state income tax returns using the same filing status as their federal returns, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.
The federal government has ruled that same-sex couples who are legally married can file joint federal returns.
State taxation officials, however, prohibit same-sex couples from filing joint Ohio returns, citing a voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibiting such marriages. That means those couples can file joint returns at the federal level but separate ones at the state level.
In some cases, married couples’ tax bills would be less if they were allowed to file separately. Becker said the setup essentially means the “Ohio Department of Taxation is subsidizing homosexual marriage over heterosexual marriage.”
Becker’s HB 396 would allow heterosexual couples to file joint or separate state returns, regardless of their federal status.
“For me to avoid the Ohio Marriage Penalty, I have to either divorce my wife and cohabitate with her or divorce my wife and marry another man,” Becker said.