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Illinois Civil Union Couples Can Now File Joint Tax Returns

By Nottage and Ward on December 9, 2011

After becoming the seventh U.S. state to pass laws that give same-sex couples many of the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples, Illinois has now confirmed that same-sex couples can file joint state income tax returns, according to The Chicago Sun-Times. The original civil union bill afforded same-sex couples the same rights as married couples; however, the Illinois Department of Revenue subsequently advised that it would not allow the filing of joint tax returns by couples who had entered into civil unions. The Department of Revenue has now reversed its position.

Starting in January, same-sex couples who have a valid Illinois civil union license will have the opportunity to file a joint state tax return. Although it is not expected to save same-sex couples much financially, the decision is considered an important and symbolic step in equality. Illinois is the tenth state to give legally recognized same-sex couples the right to file joint state tax returns.

Even though state-recognized same-sex couples are prohibited from filing federal taxes jointly, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn supported and encouraged the change at the state level. Details such as new tax paperwork have not yet been finalized; however, according to an Illinois Department of Revenue spokeswoman, the plan is to have same-sex couples filing individual federal tax returns also complete a joint federal tax return, but for state-use only. Gay rights supporters, such as Equality Illinois, are glad about the change but encourage the continuation of the fight for equal tax rights. Filing joint tax returns will only benefit same-sex couples if the Illinois tax code is changed.

There have been many changes to Illinois laws since the passing of the civil union bill and there will be many more, making it a very confusing time for same-sex couples who are considering entering into an Illinois civil union. At Nottage and Ward, our knowledgeable civil union lawyers in Chicago have a complete understanding of the civil union law as well as any changes that have been made since its passing. We can help you understand the legal ramifications and shortcomings while helping you and your partner decide if a civil union is your best option. To learn more, contact us today for a consultation at (312) 332-2915.

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