A federal court had ruled that the IRS' attempt to limit joint filing eligibility of "husband and wife" filers to gender-specific terms is unconstitutional. Pederson v. OPM, D.C., Conn.) The IRS has been rejecting joint returns filed by legally married same-sex couples.

The New York Times earlier reported that "at least 300 taxpayers ... had their returns rejected with terse letters signed by an enigmatic I.R.S. employee named J. Bell from Fresno. 'Your return includes income or tax liability for more than one taxpayer, other than husband and wife.' the letters read.  Note: husband and wife. Not two husbands, or two wives." From I.R.S. to Gay Couples, Headaches and Expenses, Scott James, New York Times and affiliate Bay Reporter, June 6, 2011.

In true IRS form, no live human was willing to come forward and take responsibility for the communication.  The IRS shrugged off the above communication as "computer-generated," and apologized for the confusion. The IRS claims a 1996 law barred same-sex couples from being treated as married for federal law purposes.  The court said that law was invalid and unconstitutional and that there was no other legally valid basis to reject the jointly filed returns.  The terms "husband and wife" are gender neutral, the court reasoned.

Wherever you land on the gay marriage debate, you have to find the traditional family values of IRS computers touching. If you find yourself being harrassed by a computer at the IRS, call Oklahoma City and Tulsa tax attorney, Travis Watkins, at 405-607-1192.  

Travis Watkins
Senior Tax Attorney
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