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Financial pros discuss same-sex marriage
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Liz Baudler
2015-04-28

This article shared 1836 times since Tue Apr 28, 2015
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As part of Money Smart Week, lasting from April 18-25, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago hosted a session discussing how marriage equality affects personal finances. "The Financial, Tax and Legal Ramifications of Marriage Equality" took place on April 21st at the bank itself, 230 S. LaSalle St. Ray Koenig of Clark Hill LLC and Thomas H. Franklin of Thomas Franklin & Associates hosted the seminar.

After a brief reception, Koenig began by acknowledging how far marriage equality had come, even in the past year. Prior to 2004, same-sex couples "had no rights" when it came to financial matters and taxes, he said. Koenig outlined possible outcomes for the expected June 2015 U.S Supreme Court decision, which would affect federal tax laws around same-sex marriage. He also mentioned a deadline of June 1st, 2015 to update existing civil unions in Illinois to marriage status. Civil unions are not entitled to the same federal tax benefits as marriage, said Koenig, although some couples may find them a better option financially.

Different federal agencies currently have different standards when it comes to applying benefits to same-sex couples, Koenig said. He discussed the "state of celebration" and "state of domicile" tests"—the former refers to agencies looking at where the marriage was performed and its validity, the latter to where the couple currently resides and if their marriage is valid there. A concern, Koenig said, is if couples move to a state that does not recognize their marriage and they lose benefits.

Franklin talked about the various benefits and penalties marriage might have on a couple. While marriage has often been thought of a tax benefit, both Koenig and Franklin mentioned the possibility of a "marriage penalty." Using a chart, Franklin demonstrated various combinations of income, employment and filing where couples could be expected to pay a marriage penalty. "If you want to beat the tax system, marry someone without a job," Franklin advised, to laughter. He also delineated various scenarios as to when filing separate while married made sense, such as if one partner has higher itemized or medical deductions.

Audience questions seemed focused on same-sex divorce scenarios. Throughout, Koenig and Franklin highlighted the need to keep documents like beneficiaries and power of attorney current, even, Koenig said, making sure you were actually divorced from previous partners before remarrying.

Koenig said he sees a generational split in marriage. Older couples, since they couldn't get married, were trying to "create marriage without actual marriage," he said. Younger couples seemed more inclined to tie the knot, but overall, Koenig said, "there's so many couples talking about whether to get married."


This article shared 1836 times since Tue Apr 28, 2015
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