As Republicans work their witchcraft to secure what looks like a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts — which will keep tax rates lower for all income brackets, not just the super rich, mind you — President Obama has managed his own coup (or compromise, depending how you read it): an extension of jobless benefits for the unemployed. Oh, and that 2009-era “Making Work Pay” tax credit that lets individuals knock $400 off their tax bill, and married couples $800 if they file together (and so long as they earn less than $75,000 or $150,000, respectively). Wait. Does that mean gays aren’t actually getting screwed from the DOMA-inflicted discrminatory tax code? Haha, of course we are.
At first glance it doesn’t look like married heterosexuals really receive any advantage, since the tax credit still works out to $400 per person whether the filers are individuals or couples.
Until you consider that since gay couples are forced to file federal returns separately, if both of them earn more than $75k both people are disqualified from the $400 credit. But married couples where one person earns, say, $80k and the other earns $25k will be eligible for the full $800 subsidy if they file together, since their combined income is less than the $150,000 cut-off; gay couples in that scenario would get just $400.
The same discrimination true if one married partner earns $148,000 and the other earns $1,000: Because the federal government recognizes their union, the married pair gets to split the difference, and their $149,000 total income becomes eligible for $800 in savings. Again, a gay couple in the exact same situation would get only $400 in tax credits.
So poorer gay couples can still take full advantage of the credits individually, but “middle class” gay couples are screwed.
Where is certified public accountant Melissa Etheridge when I need her?