Taxing IssuesNov 15, 2013
A few months ago, we asked you to contact Governor Bob McDonnell on an important marriage tax issue after the IRS announced it would recognize so-called "same-sex marriages." You did. And the governor listened. Last week, the Virginia Department of Taxation issued guidelines that uphold Virginia's definition of marriage. We are grateful to Governor McDonnell and his administration for upholding the state Constitution (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot).
Virginia's Constitution is clear — neither the state nor its agencies can recognize same-sex marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this summer did not strike down state marriage amendments. In fact, despite the actions of the Obama Administration, Justice Kennedy stated in the majority opinion that the federal government should not "put a thumb on the scales and influence a state's decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws."
Virginia's Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Normally, Virginia conforms its tax law to federal policy for efficiency, but when a conflict exists between federal policy and our state constitution, the Department of Taxation cannot simply ignore our constitution.
The political left is apoplectic that McDonnell's administration chose the side of the state constitution, arguing that the decision is "bad for business" because it'll make accounting more difficult. Are they not familiar with the federal and state tax codes that are anything but simple in the first place? This technical change will be a blip on the radar of most businesses and will not affect Virginia's status as the best state in the nation to do business.
To be clear, the Virginia Department of Taxation had no legal choice but to abide by the Constitution of Virginia, which takes precedent over the tradition of conforming the tax code to federal rules. We appreciate the Department and administration putting the rule of law ahead of simplicity.