For the 2013 tax season, with returns due on April 15, 2014, Illinois taxpayers currently in a civil union – same-sex or not – must determine how they file their income taxes for the current year.
The Internal Revenue Service issued a ruling in August 2013 stating that taxpayers in a civil union recognized under state law must file individually for federal income tax purposes. The IRS currently does not recognize civil unions as marriages. Click on the ruling to read the full Revenue Ruling 2013-17, as well as the related press release from the IRS.
What this means is, if you are in a civil union, you and your partner each must file separate federal returns as “single.” This is because the federal government does not recognize civil unions as marriages for tax purposes.
Unlike the federal government, the State of Illinois does recognize civil union couples as married for tax purposes. Illinois treats same-sex couples in a civil union exactly the same as opposite sex couples. If you were in a civil union as of December 31, 2013, you and your partner may choose to file as “married filing jointly” or as “married filing separately” when you prepare your 2013 Illinois Individual Income Tax forms this spring, Neither civil union partner, however, may file as “single” or as “head of household” on his or her Illinois tax return. In addition, all civil union couples are required to include a completed Schedule CU, Civil Union Income Report. Each taxpayer in a civil union choosing to file a joint Illinois tax return is liable for the tax liability, and each partner’s share of any joint refund may be applied against unpaid liabilities of the other partner.
If one member of a civil union is an Illinois resident, and the other is not, and the partners choose to file a joint Illinois return, both partners must be treated as residents of Illinois.
Same sex couples who entered into a marriage in a state or jurisdiction that recognizes same sex marriages should file both their federal and Illinois tax returns as “married filing jointly” or as “married filing separately.” Couples who file federal returns as “married filing jointly,” or as “married filing separately,” do not have to file the Schedule CU in Illinois.
The state of Illinois is recognizing same-sex marriages in 2014, which will generate important tax changes for the tax year 2014 (for returns filed in 2015). Some same-sex couples may choose to get married, others may decide to convert their current civil union status to an official marriage, while others may wish to maintain civil union status. Your marital status as of Dec. 31, 2014, will determine your status for tax filing purposes.
Illinois’ recognition of same-sex marriage will cause changes to requirements for tax return filings. In the coming months please look for additional information about tax return filing changes and instructions, including changes for Illinois taxpayers who wish to convert their civil union to a recognized marriage under Illinois law.
Additional information regarding IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17, can be found by visiting Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Registered Domestic Partners and Individuals in Civil Unions.
More information about civil unions and income tax return filing can be found at tax.illinois.gov and Information and instructions regarding Civil Union filing, including the Schedule CU, also can be found on page five (5) of the 2013 IL-1040 instruction booklet.
For personal tax-related advice please consult your tax advisor.