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Unequal Taxation and Undue Burdens for LGBT Families

The Bottom Line

Millions of American families led by parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) face unequal and inflated tax burdens and tax filing so complicated even accountants cannot always advise them.

Unequal Taxation and Undue Burdens for LGBT Families provides a groundbreaking, in-depth look at the income tax inequities faced by LGBT families, illustrating how many tax exemptions, credits and deductions designed to help families ease the financial burdens of raising children are unavailable to families with LGBT parents. The report also documents how, because LGBT families are denied federal recognition of their marriages and denied joint filing status due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), they face higher taxes on family health insurance benefits and additional gift and estate tax liability—and must misrepresent and “carve up” their families when filing taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unequal Taxation and Undue Burdens for LGBT Families also outlines recommendations for amending and repealing archaic and discriminatory tax laws that harm children who have LGBT parents.

Co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council and the Center for American Progress, this companion study to All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families extends that report’s examination of how antiquated laws and stigma harm children living in LGBT families in America.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, and Center for American Progress. April 2012. Unequal Taxation and Undue Burdens for LGBT Families. (date of access).

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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