What marriage equality means in dollars: A state-by-state guide


Marriage equality has become the benchmark issue by which America’s LGBT movement gauges its progress. But beyond simply addressing legalized discrimination, marriage equality also means that same-sex couples will have access to the same marriage subsidies—and marriage taxes—as heterosexual couples.

A study of how marriage equality will impact both federal and state taxes was released by James Alm and J. Sebastian and Susan Leguizamon in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. They found that on average, same-sex couples will save money on federal income taxes in every state except Delaware and the District of Columbia. Californians could stand to save a collective $83,000,000 a year.

For state income taxes, results are more varied. Californians save an estimated $28,800,000 a year; however, in states like New York, it will be the state, not taxpayers, that stands to profit. In New York, the profits are estimated to be $10,800,000 a year. Some states don’t have income taxes at all and won’t be impacted.

The data used for the study is from information collected by the Census Bureau in 2010. (Census data asks no questions about sexual orientation, so demographers must look at the number of reported same-sex households, a question not even asked until 1990. And in the 1990 census, same-sex households that claimed to be married were considered mistakes and changed by the Census Bureau to be recorded as heterosexual couples).

The data factors in income, dividends, number of children, property taxes, and mortgage payment on an individual basis. A 50 percent marriage rate of cohabitating same-sex couples was assumed, based on studies of marriage rates in states that have already legalized marriage equality.

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