Because of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”, most legally married same-sex couples still have to file their IRS tax returns separately. But last year the IRS tried to make tax laws more fair by “allowing same-sex couples in states with community property laws (ie. California, Nevada and Washington) to combine and then split their incomes for their federal returns.” Unfortunately, 300 taxpayers who did this just received a letter from the IRS which read, “Your return includes income or tax liability for more than one taxpayer, other than husband and wife.” The signature on the letter? “J. Bell” a person the IRS seems to know nothing about.
So far the origin of the letters seems completely mysterious; the IRS is saying only that he or she is a manager whose signature was “system-generated.” The families who received it are, understandably, angry; tax consultants are confused as well.
How the errant letters started is unclear. Tax experts who brought the letters to the attention of the I.R.S. weeks ago had wondered if anti-gay I.R.S. employees were acting out of malice.
“It’s either intentional or ignorance,” said Pan Haskins, an Oakland tax consultant who had been tracking the letters.
So the IRS is now apologizing to those gay couples whose returns they have messed up and supposedly trying to track down the source of this “J. Bell” letter. But Autostraddle is right when they say “[in] trying to make the situation more fair for gay people in the first place… [the IRS] apologized when they instead made things worse.”