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States give, IRS takes away.

If you're a gay or lesbian couple living in California, tax time could bring a reminder of the equality your state has afforded you in law, including joint property and state tax rights. But the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know that equality stops at the state line.

A memo issued on February 28 by the IRS's Office of Chief Counsel stated that registered domestic partners in California are not allowed to split community property, including income, a right that has been allowed in California since January 2005 and afforded to straight couples nationwide since the 1930s. Splitting income and property can save some couples considerable money in taxes.

Some legal experts described the IRS position as "indefensible." "Legally it has no legs at all," said Jenny Pizer, an attorney for Lambda Legal. "State law determines who owns what. Federal law determines how much it's taxed."

But Pizer cautioned couples who might want to counter the IRS. It may be discriminatory, she said, but it can still levy penalties if you don't adhere to its policies.
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Title Annotation:Internal Revenue Service
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 11, 2006
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