360° Coverage : 'Same Love' Grammy Wedding: Married Is Married For Tax...

1 Updates
'Same Love' Grammy Wedding: Married Is Married For Tax Purposes

'Same Love' Grammy Wedding: Married Is Married For Tax Purposes

Jan 28 2014, 1:00am CST | by

And you thought your wedding was tricky to plan. Imagine saying “I do” in front of 28.5 million of your closest friends… That’s exactly what happened last night during the 56th Grammy Awards. With...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

30 weeks ago

'Same Love' Grammy Wedding: Married Is Married For Tax Purposes

Jan 28 2014, 1:00am CST | by

And you thought your wedding was tricky to plan.

Imagine saying “I do” in front of 28.5 million of your closest friends… That’s exactly what happened last night during the 56th Grammy Awards. With Macklemore and Ryan Lewis singing their hit song “Same Love” (it was also nominated for Song of the Year but lost to Daft Punk’s campy and wildly successful “Get Lucky”) on stage, 33 couples were married – during the ceremony – by actress/rapper/producer and Cover Girl Queen Latifah. As if that wasn’t enough of a moment, Madonna showed up on stage to sing them off with her 1986 single “Open Your Heart.”

It was a wedding day to remember. But was it legit?

Latifah is a lot of things but I didn’t know that she was eligible to officiate at weddings. It turns out, she’s not – well, not long term. Marrying couples at the Grammys was a temporary gig. She’s not an ordained minister. She was deputized as a commissioner by the State of California just for the ceremony, joking later that you could “[c]all me Queen Commish.”

A commissioner is one of a number of persons authorized under the California Family Code (at section 400) to solemnize a wedding. According to John Harding, a California family law trial lawyer and divorce mediator at Harding & Associates Family Law, a valid marriage requires the consent of the parties, issuance of a license, solemnization, and authentication.

“Consent,” Harding says, “is the capacity to understand the entry into an ordinary civil contract, and the simultaneous, voluntary entry into that contract while “[s]olemnization is the performance of the marriage ceremony by an official authorized to do so.” Finally, Harding explained that a marriage license must be issued by the county clerk and signed – as part of the authentication process – by the officiant.

All of the steps matter. Forgetting a piece – like, say, getting the marriage license, means that the marriage isn’t valid. But if you get it all right, you’re married according to the state of California.

And that’s good enough for the Internal Revenue Service.

You see, for federal tax purposes, whether you’re married or single is determined by state law. That means that a valid marriage under the laws of your state will be respected by the federal government (even if the rest of the country is still reeling a bit that you got married on the Grammys).

You cannot opt to treat yourself as married if you’re not – no matter which state you live in. Notably, if your state doesn’t recognize common law marriage, you may not hold yourself out as legally married (currently, only nine states – Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Utah and Texas – and the District of Columbia, permit common law marriage though some states recognize common law marriages entered into before the laws changed). This also means that domestic partnerships, long-term engagements, civil unions and other arrangements don’t entitle you to file as married even if you feel married.

The opposite is also true. You can’t opt to file as single if you’re still legally married even you feel unmarried (or you really, really wish you were). If you want to file a separate return when you’re still married, the appropriate marital status is usually Married Filing Separate (in some cases, Head of Household or Qualifying Widower may apply). That requires a little bit of coordination: if you elect to file as Married Filing Separate, both spouses must make the same election to itemize deductions or claim the standard deduction.

There used to be an exception to the state recognition rule: same sex marriages. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law in 1996 and made it clear that even if a same sex marriage was valid under state law, it would not be recognized for federal purposes. That meant that it used to be impossible for a same sex couple to file as married for federal purposes. But that was before Windsor.

On June 26, 2013, in the now landmark Windsor opinion, the Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, confirming that the federal government did not have the right to regulate the definition of marriage. On August 29, 2013, the IRS took it one step further, ruling that all same-sex married couples will be treated as married for federal purposes regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage. But note the word “married” because it’s important. The ruling did not make it the law that all same-sex couples would be treated as married for federal purposes any more than heterosexual couples are treated as married for federal purposes – unless, of course, you put a ring on it.

In other words, no matter who you are: if you’re married, you’re married for federal tax purposes.

So those 33 couples who were married during the Grammys? They were a mix of gay and straight, old and young. That doesn’t matter. They’re all married (assuming Queen Latifah gets those certificates signed).

But pay attention to the date. For purposes of timing, marital status is determined as of the last day of the tax year. That means December 31. I don’t care how long you feel like you’ve been married: if you get married at any time during the year – even if it’s on December 31 – you’re married for the whole tax year so far as the IRS is concerned. Similarly, if you get divorced in July, you’re no longer married for the tax year. The one exception is for widows and widowers: the IRS still allows you to file as married (this is typically favorable for most taxpayers)./>/>

It doesn’t matter what your marital status is when you actually sign your tax return. Even though tax season opens in three days, those 33 couples will be filing separate returns while they file their 2013 tax returns in 2014 – again, that key date is December 31, 2013. It doesn’t matter what happened on January 26, 2014 – well, at least not for 2013 tax purposes. But for tax year 2014 (filed in 2015), those couples, assuming they stay together (and we hope that they do), will file as married.

We’re not all going to get married on a Grammy stage. But it doesn’t matter if you get married in front of 28 million people or 28. In a little white church or in Los Angeles’ Staples Center. By Queen Latifah or your justice of the peace. To a backdrop of Madonna or a church choir. As far as the IRS is concerned: married is married.

Want more taxgirl goodness? Pick your poison: receive posts by email, follow me on twitter (@taxgirl), hang out with me on Facebook or check out my YouTube channel. If you want to keep an eye on documents I’ve posted, check out my profile on Scribd. And finally, you can subscribe to my podcast on the site or via iTunes (it’s free).

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
1

20 hours ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 and MH17" hits home ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

13 die of Ebola in DRC
Kinshasa, Aug 29 (IANS) A total of 13 people, including five doctors, died of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the country's Minister of Public Health Felix Kabange told Xinhua Friday.
 
 
How birds learnt to fly
New York, Aug 29 (IANS) Birds have an innate ability to maneuver in mid-air, a talent that could have helped their ancestors learn to fly rather than fall from a perch, says a study.
 
 
Millions of mites crawling on your face right now!
New York, Aug 29 (IANS) Are you aware that your face is brimming with living mites that feed on the oil our skin secretes and hide in tiny hair follicles? And no, they are not pooping on you as they store up all the excreta until they die!
 
 
New tool maps how drug abuse affects brain
Washington, Aug 29 (IANS) In a first, researchers have developed a laser-based imaging tool to map how drug abuse disrupts blood flow to the brain.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Russia to enhance nuke capability for own security: Putin
Moscow, Aug 29 (IANS/ITAR -TASS) Russia will continue building up its nuclear potential not for the purpose of intimidation but for ensuring its security, President Vladimir Putin said Friday. "We are strengthening...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Political deadlock persists in Pakistan as army plays 'facilitator' (Roundup)
Islamabad, Aug 29 (IANS) The talks between the government and representatives of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) failed to break the political deadlock between the two sides Friday...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Jason Segel lives with puppets
Jason Segel owns hundreds of puppets. The 34-year-old actor has a major obsession with collecting the moveable models and admits they have even started taking over his Los Angeles home. Speaking to The Guardian...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Ariana Grande is 'happy' with love life
Ariana Grande is ''happy'' with her love life. The 21-year-old singer refused to reveal too much about her blossoming romance with Big Sean, 26, but she insists she's content with how it's progressing. Asked about her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kelly Clarkson wants 'big family'
Kelly Clarkson wants a ''big family.'' The 32-year-old singer welcomed her first child, daughter, River Rose into the world with her music manager husband Brandon Blackstock in June and is already thinking about...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Britney Spears' dad bought video of cheating boyfriend
Britney Spears' father has allegedly bought the video of her boyfriend cheating on her. Jamie Spears, who has controlled the singer's personal and professional affairs since her breakdown in 2008, reportedly forked out...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Britain raises terror threat level
London, Aug 29 (IANS) British Home Secretary Theresa May Friday announced that Britain's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) has changed the country's threat level from international terrorism from "substantial" to...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Jason Segel: mum hated my nude scene
Jason Segel's mum hated his nude scene in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'. The 34-year-old actor has revealed that his mother failed to laugh when she first watched the scene where Jason gets naked in front of co-star...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Filming resumes for Star Wars Episode VII
Filming for 'Star Wars Episode VII' has resumed following Harrison Ford's recovery from injury. The Hollywood icon suffered an accident on set earlier this month, which meant he had to undergo surgery on his leg and led...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
India seeks Kuwait's help over arrested Indians
New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) India has sought Kuwait's assistance over the arrest of some Indian nationals following a brawl in that Gulf nation. "I understand that there was a brawl with nationals of some other countries...
Read more on Politics Balla