Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Tuesday Windup and Pitch

The Tax man cometh and I'm not scared about it. I've met him on this turf before and it's a stare down that I've become accustomed too every year before April 15. Each year GLBTQ groups launch their tax equity campaign citing all the inequities that face lavender citizens across the board. I fully understand where they are coming from. Not to mention an ever growing tax burdern that is engulfing us all as we dig, bail or root this nation back into some form of prosperity . Yet, I deal with it, with some gruff, but it's a necessary task that must be done not only the yearly tax reporting but the daily sales taxes, hamburger taxes, city taxes, or any other numerous tax grabs that can't be sidestepped. As they say, it's Taxes and dying that we must all do and there's no way around it. O.K. if you haven't filed then get her done. I'm completing it and checking it twice.

A COP:24/7 Special
Equal Taxes, Equal Rights:
Here's a 411 look at the Price of being Gay

Living in the land of the free and the brave can be costly and for many GLBTQ individuals and families the playing field isn't always level or equitable. Each year everyone does the 1040 Drill to get those taxes files either on time or the 4868 Tax extension shuffle. Just in case you didn't know SGL organizations have been promoting campaigns connecting the dots on how gays are taxed as citizens but treated like a "red headed step child," otherwise when other rights are concerned. Even my money guru hero, Suze Orman has commented on the fact that her amassed wealth maybe in question concerning her long term partner. It's truly something to think about when doing your estate planning involving your life mate and the impact of your decisions. As I scurry to complete my yearly task, I wanted share with you some interesting fast facts courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign and http://www.taxday2009.com/ for your consideration. On Tuesday, April 14 join HRC for a webchat at 2:00 p.m. EDT to answer questions on a wide range of financial issues affecting LGBT individuals and couples with tax experts and attorneys. You can submit your question prior to the online chat to webchat@hrc.org.

Federal Taxes: Married same-sex couples are not eligible to file federal taxes jointly. This becomes especially significant when the two partners’ incomes differ dramatically, such as in the case of a stay-at-home parent. See Melba Abreu's story at http://www.glad.org/doma/plaintiffs/

Social Security: LGBT people pay the same Social Security taxes, but do not have access to the spousal protections Social Security provides to heterosexual people, including the lump sum survivor benefit generally used for funeral expenses and access to a deceased spouse’s higher monthly benefit. I experience this first hand with the death of my LTC. I was not entitled to his death benefit for use in his burial nor any of his social security which he didn't have a chance to collect despite his lifetime payments into the system. For more info see Herb Burtis' story at http://www.glad.org/doma/plaintiffs/

Inheritance Rights: Current tax law allows a spouse to inherit an unlimited amount without incurring an estate tax. Same-sex couples are denied this right, as well as Tenancy by the Entirety, which ensures that debt inherited cannot be enforced against the couple’s jointly owned property. Do you and your partner have investment property or a business?

Family Health Care: Some employers extend health insurance benefits to same-sex couples, but this trend is undermined by the federal government’s refusal to recognize legal partners for Medicaid and other social services. Adding insult to injury, domestic partner benefits are taxed as additional compensation. See Mary & Dorene Bowe-Shulman's story at http://www.glad.org/doma/plaintiffs/

Employment Discrimination: In most states, you can be fired from a job simply for being gay, bi or trans. This is not just some abstract concept, it really happens. In these difficult economic times, LGBT people need a fair chance at keeping their employment. See http://www.unitedenda.org/ Don't forget that Arkansas is a Right to Work state, your employment can be considered at will. That's the "at will" of the employer.

Right to Travel: Most people in America can move and travel between states knowing that their legal rights will come with them. LGBT people cannot make that assumption. Is a better job worth losing family health insurance? If there's an accident during a family vacation will one partner be denied hospital visitation?

Immigration Equality: If a US citizen marries an opposite-sex person from a different country that person can sponsor their spouse for immigration purposes. That right is not available to same sex couples, where all too often LGBT people find themselves in heart wrenching dilemmas, forced to choose between their country and the person they love. See http://www.immigrationequality.org/

Open Military Service: The current Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy deprives LGBT Americans of their right to serve their country openly. A marine who has been loyal to her squadron for years can be dishonorably discharged after she is seen kissing her girlfriend goodbye. See http://www.sldn.org/

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