tax cheats

3 Couples Sue State of Alaska Over Discriminatory Property Taxes


Three same-sex homeowners in Anchorage have filed suit against Alaska claiming a $150,000 property tax exemption available to seniors and disabled veterans unfairly excludes gays and lesbians. As you might expect, even with a third-grader’s education, the math works out this way: committed gay couples receive only half of the available exemption, because the state doesn’t recognize their significant others — they are merely “roommates.”

The ACLU of Alaska, which is representing the three couples, points to the 2005 Alaska Supreme Court ruling that says health care coverage provided to married couples violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause. Moreover, says the group’s Tom Stenson, “Alaska law is clear that denying committed same-sex couples the same rights as married opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional. For senior couples and disabled vets, every bit of savings counts. These couples should not have to pay more taxes than other families.”

The three couples include sexagenarians Julie Schmidt and Gayle Schuh (retired educators, together 33 years); Julie Vollick, a 20-year Air Force veteran, and Susan Bernard (together seven years and raising four kids); and Fred Traber and Larry Snider (together for 28 years).