queer tax

It Can Cost You $467,562 Over Your Lifetime Just For Being a Gay


If there’s a way to get conservatives to back LGBT rights, it’s not by convincing them our sexuality is not, in fact, a choice, nor will it be done by showing them videos about gender reassignment surgery. What every American understands, though, is cold hard cash. So maybe getting them to understand it is expensive as hell to be gay in this country will help the cause? Fine. Wishful thinking. But still, from Social Security and heathcare to paying taxes and child rearing, the queers are, quite literally, being “taxed” for their demographics.

Crunching the numbers, the New York Times finds that “in our worst case, the couple’s lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562.” Ouch. (Curiously, the Times doesn’t calculate the cost of heterosexual couples for comparison.)

Our goal was to create a hypothetical gay couple whose situation would be similar to a heterosexual couple’s. So we gave the couple two children and assumed that one partner would stay home for five years to take care of them. We also considered the taxes in the three states that have the highest estimated gay populations — New York, California and Florida. We gave our couple an income of $140,000, which is about the average income in those three states for unmarried same-sex partners who are college-educated, 30 to 40 years old and raising children under the age of 18.

Here is what we came up with. In our worst case, the couple’s lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562. But the number fell to $41,196 in the best case for a couple with significantly better health insurance, plus lower taxes and other costs.

These numbers will vary, depending on a couple’s income and circumstance. Gay couples earning, say, $80,000, could have health insurance costs similar to our hypothetical higher-earning couple, but they might well owe more in income taxes than their heterosexual counterparts. For wealthy couples with a lot of assets, on the other hand, the cost of being gay could easily spiral into the millions.

And then there’s this:

Nearly all the extra costs that gay couples face would be erased if the federal government legalized same-sex marriage. One exception is the cost of having biological children, but we felt it was appropriate to include this given our goal of outlining every cost gay couples incur that heterosexual couples may not.

The Times goes into more detail in each financial area, like health care and estate taxes, but the evidence is clear: It costs a helluva lot to be gay in America. (Isn’t it time for a CNN special by that name?) Which might explain why so many of us do not, in fact, fit the stereotypical description as wealthy urbanites who spend lavishly on travel and luxury apparel.

But plenty of us do :)

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  • MoHoTo

    The article grossly understates the amount, by narrowing the scenario to one very specific case instead of incorporating a broader cross section of couples. But at least they made a case of sorts.

  • Qjersey

    And what about for those of us who don’t incur the cost because we simply can’t afford to pay lawyers for all those recommended documents we need if we can’t get married?

    how do we calculate this? hmmm

    Article has the unintended effect of perpetuating the stereotype of gays as middle class and making more money that straights.

  • MoHoTo

    Well most things governmental are in proportion to income, so in my view they underestimate the impact. A lot of gay couples do have a lot of income relative to national averages, and those are the ones hit hardest in sheer financial terms. Inheritance taxes, property transfers, retirement plans, etc.

  • stevenelliot

    This article doesnt begin to asses the lost (or never earned) income due to gay people not being promoted. My partner didnt get a job at his company because he was gay. That job paid 175,000. The job he has now pays 90,000. so if you add 85,000 X 5 years= 425,000……

    What I think is interesting in this piece is the underlying fact that gay people work twice as hard as straights to acheive the same economic result. We swim upriver. This is never mentioned

  • Kurt

    Actually, I thought the examples overstated it for the typical gays. If you don’t have kids and don’t have greatly unequal incomes due to “mommy tracking”, and are not a multi-millionaire paying estate tax, gays actually came out ahead.

  • Chitown Kev

    But how many gay couples are similar to straight couples is the question.

    This is a nice exercise but a lot more info than this is needed. I guess you have to start somewhere.

  • Bertie

    there is also a lifetime of social security money that dies with us — does not transfer to parents or long-term gay partners.

  • adolf

    this is BS, the people really hurt by all these tax breaks/benefits are the single people, almost 50% of the adult pop in this country are single, and we have no way to access the benefits that couples(gay/straight) get.

  • Kyle24

    Adolf, your name scares me but you make a great point. I’m sick and tired of our country always benefitting couples and screwing singles. Even something as basic as a gym membership is cheaper if you are partnered. If you are in a relationship your life automatically becomes easier because two people are splitting the cost and burdens of life. If a single makes $100k they are not better off than the couple who each make $75k ($150k) combined. the couple shares expenses so their money goes a lot farther. it’s difficult enough being single, but why in the world do we get punished for it. don’t get me started on having to pay taxes that target kids (i.e. schools) when i won’t probably ever have any kids even though i would love to.

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    and don’t get me started on Gay bars and their exorbitant prices (run by the Mafia!)

  • Gavin

    @Adolf: couldn’t have said it better myself.

Comments are closed.