Money Tips: Helpful Advice: Same-Sex Marriage and Taxes

Financial Planning Advice: Gay Money Matters

National Task Force: LGBTQ Taxpayer Checklist

LGBTQ Newlyweds: Life After the Wedding

Prudential: The LGBTQ Financial Experience


Same-Sex Marriage and Taxes


On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court settled the issue of same-sex marriage in the U.S. with the landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. This decision requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and for states to recognize such marriages that were performed in other states. Gay marriage became legal in all 50 states.


The governmental recognition of same-sex marriage means that same-sex couples can now enjoy the same rights and privileges that opposite-sex couples do. And the same responsibilities and potential pitfalls of marriage. Taxes are a prime example. Married same-sex couples must now consider the best tax filing status now that they have the options of “married filing jointly” and “married filing separately.” As with opposite-sex couples, the answer is not always straightforward.



When spouses have a large disparity in their incomes, they can benefit from the “marriage bonus” of filing jointly. That has the effect of averaging out the incomes, lowering the tax burden on the higher-earning spouse a lot while raising the taxes on the lower-earning spouse slightly. The couple’s overall tax bill is then lowered as a result.


When spouses earn approximately the same amount of money, the effect depends on the amount of their collective income. Couples with more modest matching incomes are likely to pay about the same amount of tax as before, while higher-earning couples could run into the “marriage penalty” of ending up in such a high tax bracket that they would have been better off filing as singles.


Same-sex couples with higher incomes are more likely to itemize, and also have income levels where certain itemized tax deductions like mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and property taxes begin to phase out or disappear completely. On the other end of the income scale, combining incomes could make a couple ineligible for some tax credits and other low-income benefits. Unfortunately, the only good way to determine this is to calculate taxes both ways (joint and separate status).



Same-sex couples in some states that did not recognize gay marriage prior to the ruling already have practice doing multiple returns. State taxes were not as straightforward prior to the ruling, because some states that did not recognize same-sex marriage required couples to file under single status even though their federal status was married filing jointly. The state definition of income in these states was tied to the federal definition, forcing the preparation of an extra “dummy” federal tax return for each partner just to define income for state tax purposes.


Same-sex married couples must also take the time to adjust all financial planning vehicles such as retirement plans, wills, and estate plans to denote the proper marriage and beneficiary status. Money or property transfers to a spouse are generally exempt from federal taxes, so failure to update your status correctly could be costly.


From now on, same-sex married couples have the same tax decisions to make that opposite-sex couples do. The Supreme Court decision provided clarity to their taxes.


National Task Force: LGBTQ Taxpayer Checklist

LGBTQ Newlyweds: Life After the Wedding

Prudential: The LGBTQ Financial Experience

Financial Planning Advice: LGBTQ Topics

Social Security: What Every LGBTQ Couple Needs to Know


Queer Our Taxes


Filing your taxes can be a complicated and intimidating process. For many LGBTQ people, the process is made even more unapproachable because tax software and tax preparation companies seldom have a clear understanding of the credits, deductions, and other issues that are most relevant for members of our community.


Finding a tax preparer with an in-depth understanding of the financial and personal lives of LGBTQ people can be difficult. That shouldn’t mean that you miss out on claiming credits and deductions that you’re entitled to receive.



Did you know?


--If you itemize, you may be able to deduct the out-of-pocket cost of transition-related care, including: surgery; reproductive health care, including abortion; and HIV-related care.


--The IRS checks your name and gender marker against the Social Security Administration’s database.


--If you adopt a child, you may be able to claim a credit to offset the costs of adoption up to $13,190.


Lambda Legal

Gay Law Network

Queer Cents

Gay Real Estate Network

Gay Marriage Lawyers

LGBTQ Financial Info: Tax, Insurance, Investing

Wells Fargo LGBTQ Financial Advice


Financial Quotes


“Marriage equality gave me a sense of inclusion in mainstream society.”

– Gay Transgender Male, Millennial


“As an older person, I see a dramatic change in society. There is a comfort level and emotional security for LGBTQ people that I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I did not realize before how important the right to marry was. It includes people in society, allows them to participate as a family like everyone else.”

–Lesbian Female, Boomer


“We can now file our tax returns together instead of having to figure out how to divide everything up.”

–Lesbian Female, Gen X


“Filing taxes is simpler, because we can now file as legally married rather than filing separately. So we only fill out one tax form, rather than two (one per person). Our situation is also simpler because my husband is on my benefit plan (health insurance), which is paid for with my pretax earnings. When we had domestic partnership benefits, it was paid for with my post-tax earnings.”

–Transgender Male, Millennial


“I no longer have to worry about what will happen to my husband in the event of my death. His interests are protected now that we are married.”

–Gay Male, Boomer


“I was able to add my husband to my insurance policy.”

–Gay Male, Boomer


Money Tips: Helpful Advice: Same-Sex Marriage and Taxes

Financial Planning Advice: Gay Money Matters

National Task Force: LGBTQ Taxpayer Checklist

LGBTQ Newlyweds: Life After the Wedding

Prudential: The LGBTQ Financial Experience


How to be Fiscally Fabulous the Gay Way


We all want to be “Fiscally Fabulous,” don’t we? Renowned LGBTQ Financial Adviser David Rae provides some smart financial tips.  It’s not just a problem for gay people, but when consumerism runs rampant it can stunt our futures. Here are a few tips to negotiate around those uncontrollable urges to keep up with the Fabulous Gay Joneses.


If you would rather look rich than actually become wealthy, then stop reading now. If, on the other hand you actually want help to reach your financial goals (you do have financial goals, don’t you?), here are a few tips that can help you maintain a great lifestyle while also enjoying that lifestyle going far into the future.


One of the great joys of our gay culture is a heightened appreciation of things; things to do, things to see, things to have, things to buy. And we particularly love the latest things. But the flipside of that coin is that it can be tough to keep spending under control. My favorite quote from the Fight Club movie sums it up perfectly: “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”



There is another way.


--Fiscally Fabulous Gays Spend less than they make:


Seems pretty obvious, right? But don’t we all have at least one gay friend with a busy social life, heavy travel schedule and incredible wardrobe but with thousands of dollars of debt?


Repeat after me: Carrying balances on credit cards is a great way to kill your chances of creating wealth. It’s not how much you make, but how much you keep that drives wealth accumulation. Also, with no emergency fund, small balances on credit cards can quickly spiral out of control. By paying off your balance and eliminating having to pay credit card interest, you’ll actually have more money to spend in the long run.


--Fiscally Fabulous Gays Ignore the Joneses:


We all suffer from some status envy, but often those status symbols are merely mirages. They’re not real. Living in West Hollywood, I can tell you that looks are deceiving. That gorgeous guy driving a Bentley may actually be living out of that Bentley too. And how many of the “Real Housewives” have had their cars or even houses repossessed? Not to mention jail time. Nothing to envy about that.


So only spend what makes sense for your pocketbook. And if you’re worried that you’ll lose friends because you’re not rocking the latest pair of $500 sunglasses, maybe it’s time to get some new friends.



--Fiscally Fabulous Gays Brush up on their bargain-finding skills:


Like a lot of gay people, I love to travel. I also love to get a great deal and often shop around for major purchases. (My husband counts himself lucky that I actually find this enjoyable.) Last year a few friends headed out for a trip. I bought my flight in advance and got a pretty good deal. One friend procrastinated and found himself stuck in a middle seat, squeezed between two hefty Midwesterners, for almost double what I paid. We both went to the same place but he got no added value for the extra expense.


A dollar saved is better than a dollar earned (and no taxes are due on savings). To think of it another way, the more you save in one area like flights, the more money you’ll have to spend on fun things like dinner with friends or, it kills me to say this, $500 sunglasses.


--Fiscally Fabulous Gays Understand that need and want are not the same thing:


It really amazes me how often people confuse these two things. For example: “I want the new iPhone 7” is not the same as “My cell phone died, I need a new one.” Yes, it’s true. You read it here first.


--Fiscally Fabulous Gays Pay themselves first by saving automatically:


Set up an automatic deposit into a saving account, retirement account or even a mutual fund. Make it automatic and treat it like it’s a bill. If you never see the money because it’s tucked safely away earning interest, it’ll less likely to tempt you into spending it.


You may be surprised how you don’t miss the money, and how quickly it adds up. You can even use this trick for short-term goals like a vacation. Think of how much more fun you could have knowing your Atlantis Cruise or Provincetown stay is paid in full, in advance and without coming home to a mountain of debt.


These are just a few basic steps you can take right now to help get you moving in the right direction financially, and on the road to true financial security. Working with a gay fiduciary financial planner to map out your financial goals can help you get on track to setting and achieving your goals.


Whether you are just entering the work force, about to retire or anywhere in between, the best advice I can give you now is to get your head out of the sand, pay yourself first and start accumulating wealth now. Being a fiscally fabulous gay may be more challenging for some than others.  But hey, who says you’re not up for a challenge?  No one’s ever said “I wish I had I’d starting saving later or saved less.” Ever.


[Source: David Rae, Certified Financial Planner, Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Trilogy Financial, Los Angeles / April 2017]


Lambda Legal

Gay Law Network

Queer Cents

Gay Real Estate Network

Gay Marriage Lawyers

LGBTQ Financial Info: Tax, Insurance, Investing

Wells Fargo LGBTQ Financial Advice


LGBTQ Friendly Financial Institutions


They may be vilified for debit card fees and shoddy mortgage loans, but big banks are among the most LGBTQ-friendly places to work, a new study finds.


Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo are among the nearly 200 business that received a 100 percent score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, a yearly survey, which evaluates the relative LGBTQ-friendliness of companies based on a variety of factors, including their benefits offerings and engagement with the LGBTQ community. The financial sector ranked higher than many others, according to the survey.


When the HRC began conducting the survey a decade ago, only 13 companies got a top score. Nearly 90 percent of the businesses in the study offer domestic partner health benefits and more than one-third provide a transgender-inclusive health insurance plan. The number of Fortune 500 companies offering domestic partner benefits has increased 75 percent since 2002, the study found.




Wells Fargo became the first American bank to feature an LGBTQ couple in a national TV campaign.


Here is a list of LGBTQ friendly financial institutions, including banks, investment firms, financial planners, and insurance companies:




American Express


Bank of America

Bank of New York Mellon

Barclays Capital

Capital One

Charles Schwab



Deutsche Bank

Ernst & Young

JP Morgan Chase



Morgan Stanley

Pricewaterhouse Coopers


Sun Life


US Bancorp


Wells Fargo



National Task Force: LGBTQ Taxpayer Checklist

LGBTQ Newlyweds: Life After the Wedding

Prudential: The LGBTQ Financial Experience

Financial Planning Advice: LGBTQ Topics

Social Security: What Every LGBTQ Couple Needs to Know


LGBTQ Newlyweds: Life After the Wedding


I’ve been gay my whole life, a Certified Financial Planner for well over a decade, coupled with my sweetheart for six years and married to him for 13 months and counting. From this perspective, I’d like to share a few tips for a happy, healthy and successful marriage with my LGBTQ brethren. While less experienced at marriage (so far), I do have considerable background as a Financial Planner working with LGBTQ couples to the point that it has become my specialty.


 As a community, our relationships face a unique set of challenges. Fortunately, lack of legal recognition is no longer a major issue (while I’m not naïve to think discrimination is finished, the tide has shifted dramatically, and permanently, in our favor). But newfound marriage equality is forcing many couples to deal with issues they may have been able to previously ignore.


 At the same time, all married couples face challenges directly or indirectly related to money and finances. I would never claim to have all the answers to every marriage problem. But here are some significant ways to help reduce the likelihood of money woes jeopardizing your relationship.


Plan, Plan, Plan - Capable couples communicate about money early and often. Ideally, I’d like to see you have a financial plan in place before you tie the knot. Working on (and working out) a financial plan together can preemptively diffuse monetary time bombs and future chaos. Avoiding conversations about your finances now exponentially increases your chances of some small bump in the road turning into a larger issue later. Essential topics include kids, where to live, how much to save and credit card management.


Figure Out How To Split Expenses - Find an arrangement that works for you as a couple. Some couples work a 50-50 split while others share expenses based on the size of their incomes. The important thing is to have an arrangement that you both find fair and that works for you. Not taking this step can easily lead to resentment or fights over spending in other areas.


Get Your Policies And Paperwork In Order - You are now a married couple with legally recognized rights and obligations. Make sure your beneficiaries are up to date. Obtain the proper amounts of life insurance, and consider disability and long-term care insurance. Also remember you will now most likely be filing your taxes jointly. So be strategic with retirement plan contributions and other potential spousal benefits that may be available to you now.


Expect The Unexpected - Life happens. Odds are, if you are together long enough, someone will get sick or laid off, a car will break down, or some other emergency will pop up. Being prepared and having an emergency fund will help keep you on track for your financial goals, reduce the odds of having to cancel the “fun” parts of your plan and reduce the financial stress in the household. At the very least, a nice financial cushion will help to ensure that much-needed last minute trip to Puerto Vallarta won’t end up piling up interest on a credit card.


Figure In The Fun - If you can afford it, also set aside money for the memory-making good times like vacations, adventures on your bucket list or all-out binges on holiday gifts. Getting into the habit of saving becomes easier when you also include something fun and exciting in the mix. As essential as it is, it may be hard for you two to get excited about contributing to a retirement that could be 20 or 30 years away. But knowing you’re also saving up for a trip to Hawaii next winter might help keep things on track. (Mind you, neither one should come at the expense of the other. But you knew that, right?)


Watch The Waistline Along With The Bottom Line - Many of our newly married friends (gay and straight) seem to pack on a few extra pounds in their first years of marriage. Do yourself a favor and limit the dining out and ordering in. Your waistline, your wallet and your svelte 90-year-old self will thank you for it. Let the good times roll, for sure, but keep up with the crunches, too.


Take Action Now - If you procrastinate and don’t act on your financial plan, even the most expert guidance on the planet is irrelevant. The best advice I can give is to get your head out of the sand and start building your financial lives together now, no matter how long you’ve been together. Consider contacting a professional who can help with your specific situation and time frame. Putting a plan in place and saving for your goals means that you won’t outlive your financial resources and are well positioned to live happily ever after.


[Source: David Rae, Certified Financial Planner, Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Trilogy Financial, Los Angeles / November 2016]





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