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Suze Orman: U.S. Tax Code a 'Travesty' for Gay Couples

Suze Orman
John Amis, AP
By Mandi Woodruff

Personal finance expert Suze Orman took a break from her soap box at CNBC on Monday to speak candidly about her experience as a gay taxpayer in America. "There is such discrimination [in our tax code], from insurance benefits to Social Security benefits ... anything you can possibly think of," Orman said during a conference call coordinated by the Respect for Marriage Coalition.

"It's a travesty to say the least," she said.

The crux of the gay marriage tax debate is this: So long as states continue to legally recognize same-sex marriage while the federal government does not, couples essentially have double the amount of work on their plate when filing their tax returns each year.

For instance, a same-sex married couple living in New York state would need three tax returns -- one joint state return and two separate federal tax forms for each of them.

"We can't just go down to H&R Block and have them plug in our numbers," family law attorney David Pisarra, who is also in a same-sex relationship, told Business Insider. "You're probably going to at least double, if not triple, the accountant's time, because you're adding one state return and two federal."

Further complicating matters, same-sex couples aren't able to access some tax breaks that traditional married couples can. A gay stay-at-home parent, for example, can't currently enroll in a Roth IRA or traditional IRA because they can't claim their spouse's source of income.

And if that spouse chooses to enroll in his or her partner's health insurance plan, they would have to pay taxes on those benefits. Similarly, if one spouse dies, the other would have to pay federal estate taxes on assets left in their name.

Orman herself has been married to her long-time partner, Kathy Travis (KT), for three years. They wed, not in the U.S., but in South Africa, which recognizes same-sex marriage at the national level.

"Overturning [the Defense of Marriage Act] is essential for us to have true equality," she said. "Financial discrimination just really adds insult to injury."

As for the fate of DOMA, the Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion this summer.

For same-sex couples looking for resources on filing their taxes, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders has a host of great resources. You can access their guide on Navigating Income Taxes for Married Same-Sex Couples publication here.

More From Business Insider:
How to Screw Up Your Tax Refund in Seven Steps
Gay Couples Could Spend Twice as Much on Preparing Their Taxes
9 Ways to Spot a Tax Scam

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The total amount of tax you pay reaches far beyond what you owe the federal government. Depending on where you live, most likely you're required to pay additional taxes, including property and sales tax. The disparity between the amount of tax you pay in a low-tax city and that in a high-tax city can be dramatic. Living in any of these 10 cities could save you a bundle, although the exact amount may fluctuate based on your income and lifestyle choices.

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Much ado is made in the press about federal tax brackets, but cities can carry a tax bite of their own. Even if you live in a state that has no income tax, your city may levy a variety of taxes that could eat away the entire benefit of living in an income tax-free state, including property taxes, sales taxes and auto taxes. Consider all the costs before you move to one of these cities, and understand that rates may change based on your family's income level.

Great Ways to Get Charitable Tax Deductions

Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as a deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.

A Freelancer's Guide to Taxes

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Tax Deductions for Voluntary Interest Payments on Student Loans

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Before my husband retired from the military, we always had to file three forms when he was stationed in the States - one Fed, our home State for his income and the State he was stationed in for mine.

April 18 2013 at 10:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The GAYS are screaming about the taxes? They need to go back to being straight then. Because it does not matter what is what on sexual orientation when it comes to taxes, girlie. We are all getting taxed to death. Quit crying and pay, pay, pay. You voted for Obama so enjoy it.

April 18 2013 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't worry my friends. The Lord himself shall descend
from heaven, with a shout, and the voice of an arch angel, and with the trump of God;
and the dead in Christ shall be raised first; then we which are alive and remain shall be
caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air."
Are you ready for THE RAPTURE. I hope so, Don't Be LEFT BEHIND

April 18 2013 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One more thing, right now, for every dollar the U.S. and Federal Reserve prints, they have to borrow 46 cents and they have been printing like crazy since 2009 without any consideration for what's going to happen because of it. That's why the dollar is going down the tube.

April 18 2013 at 6:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why don't you just say that the tax code is a travesty for everyone, which it is? You don't need to bring gender or anything else into the problem right now, the way the country is headed. We're all in real trouble right now and all need to work together now. Don't start the we verses they situation because we need to all stick together to get out of this mess. We all need to wake Washington up to make them to see the real big problem and get them to quite. They need to stop listening to the White house and all their crony's with we're right your not and make America right again. Right now if we don't start seeing what's happening to the American dollar and what other countries are doing to get away from using our money, this country will be truly lost along with every man, women and child no matter who or what they believe in. So stop pointing fingers and start working together to solve the problem together. We truly have a very, very big problem. Get over yourselves and let's get this figured out, NOW.

April 18 2013 at 5:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

lets change the world to suit the gays,they cant be expected to bend a little to go with the laws that are already there

April 18 2013 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pearc2's comment

If YOU were forced to subsidize families for your entire life would you complain? YOU BETCHA.

April 18 2013 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to exlondoner's comment

families are our future,,,,kids grow up and get jobs and pay taxes!...It costs a lot of money to raise children the right way, and families need a tax break thru claiming kids as dependents.

April 18 2013 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Steve Semonious

Unemployment is not a hand out, If you go to the bank and withdraw money, Is that a hand out? The governments job is to create more taxes and more tax payers. If you think about it, Thats what the church does also. We based our whole government on freedom. But somewhere down the line rich people figured out that they could afford to buy elections. Now we have a government based on raising income for upper 1%. It really is brilliant. But my question is"What are we as citizens going to do about it?"

April 18 2013 at 5:42 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Well maybe at her income level, it's hard to feel sympathy, but she isn't just being self-important, as one commentator noted. She makes some very valid points, and they apply to gays at all income levels. Believe me, she knows what she is talking about, and I appreciate her speaking up. We need to get rid of DOMA and have the same rights as everyone else.

April 18 2013 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to teddrio's comment

I really have no opinion on gays, I say live and let live. And yes I am Christian, but I believe the Bible, I have no right to judge. My problem is with the American Government and Individual rights, if we could just get back to what this country was "founded" on.

April 18 2013 at 5:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

the tax code is a night mare for all tax payers not only gays. Obama wants to add additional codes, the man is an idiot of the first degree.

April 18 2013 at 5:30 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

NO ONE is taxed more UNFAIRLY than the single person! If we own a home we HAVE to pay property taxes of which more than half goes to PUBLIC SCHOOLS to educate a kid that's NOT MINE! I went to a private school.... there fore my parents had to pay for that and some public school kid also. It's so UNFAIR! And while we are at it.... cut the time table for unemployment to 6 MONTHS! These lazy good for nothings are ******* this country dry!~ OBAMA!

April 18 2013 at 5:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply