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Kansas says gay couples must file taxes as singles

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas tax officials issued a ruling Friday saying same-sex couples must file their state income tax returns as if each person were single, even if they filed as married on their federal returns.

The Kansas Revenue Department said it plans to provide a worksheet in its instruction booklet for calculating income, deductions and other data separately for each taxpayer. The agency contends the approach adheres to the Kansas Constitution's definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

In August, the federal government said that all legally married gay couples will be able to file joint federal tax returns even if they reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages.

The decision came in rules issued by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service designed to implement the tax aspects of the Supreme Court's decision in June that invalidated a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The Supreme Court ruling came in a case filed by Edie Windsor, a resident of New York, who was forced to pay federal estate taxes after the death of Thea Spyer, her lesbian spouse.

Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said Kansas is essentially requiring same-sex couples to take extra steps that are not required by other married couples. He argued that Kansas tax officials are sidestepping Kansas law that requires married couples to use their federal filing status as the basis for their state taxes. The directive essentially tells gay and lesbian couples, he said, to ignore the state law and fill out separate forms that apply only to them.

"We insist that the Brownback administration immediately rescind this discriminatory directive, and treat gay and lesbian taxpayers with the same fairness every other Kansan is treated," Witt said.

The state's tax guidance also raises questions, he said, when there are large income disparities between the partners. It also causes problems in dividing up deductions for medical costs, home mortgage interest and other items.

"The Department of Revenue is making this up without any kind of legislative authority," Witt said.