Vickie Henry and Claire Humphrey yesterday sued the IRS, alleging rules that prohibit them from filing tax returns as a married couple unconstitutionally taxes them at a higher rate than other married people.
The pair, who filed their suit in US District Court in Boston, say they have filed amended returns listing them as married for 2007 and 2009 and want a refund on their taxes for those years, based on the lower rate charged a married couple versus two single people.
A year ago, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which the IRS uses to define "married" was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is currently considering the law.
Henry and Humphrey married in 2004, a few months after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry. Among their arguments for a refund:
Although plaintiffs are similarly situated to all other married persons in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, intrudes into their marriage, severs their marriage into "federal" and "state" components, and erases their marriage for all federal purposes. DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, thereby burdens and stigmatizes their marital relationship, causing confusion and complexity in a culture where people are expected to have one familial and marital status, whether dealing with private, state or federal entities.
DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, requires plaintiffs to deny the existence of their family and the nature of their familial relationship. For example, DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, forces plaintiffs to misstate their actual marital status and describe themselves as "unmarried" or "single" or "head of household" to United States government officials and on United States government forms on pain of civil or criminal sanctions. Federal income tax law requires income tax returns to be signed under the pains and penalties of perjury, 26 U.S.C. § 7206, but DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, forces the plaintiffs to make blatant misrepresentations about their families and their marital status.
The requirement, imposed by DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, that plaintiffs inaccurately identify their marital status as "single" or "unmarried" in federal contexts, even though they are legally married, burdens and stigmatizes their family relationships.
As a sovereign state of the United States of America, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has, since its ratification of the United States Constitution and, indeed, before then, exclusively established and ordained the legal requirements for civil marriage within their sovereign jurisdiction and the circumstances for recognizing a marriage performed outside of Massachusetts.