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Money is part of every couple’s journey from first kiss to final shared moments, whether finances and taxes are shared, separate, discussed or avoided.
If a straight couple is married as of Dec. 31 of any given year, the couple is subject to the benefits (and restrictions) of the tax rules for married couples. Most straight married couples file a joint federal return, a joint return for the state in which they live, and additional state returns (usually joint) for any other states in which either spouse has worked, lived, or owned income-producing property that year.
For gay and lesbian married couples, taxes aren’t that simple. A joint federal return is not allowed, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act, so two federal tax returns are required for most couples. In states that recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions, the two federal returns usually are combined to prepare a joint state tax return.
A Kansas couple that travels to Iowa for their nuptials, returning to Kansas to live and work, will not file an Iowa tax return. (OK, they might if they own income-producing real estate or work in Iowa.) They will file separate federal returns and separate Kansas returns. Depending on their situation, they may each file using the single filing status, or one may file as head of household.
Some married gay and lesbian couples pay higher taxes than straight spouses with similar finances and families, and others pay less tax. In addition to the need to prepare and file additional taxes, the opportunity to make choices, weigh options, and document expenditures complicates the tax preparation process. For federal taxes, spouses use the same planning techniques as unmarried couples.
If one spouse has less than $3,650 of income (the amount of the personal exemption, which changes from year to year), he or she can be claimed as a dependent of the other spouse. To be claimed as a dependent, the couple must have lived together the entire year and the spouse with more income must have provided more than half the support for the other spouse.
A spouse who supports the family may also be able to deduct the medical expenses of the other spouse, even if income is more than $3,650. To deduct medical expenses, the supporting spouse must itemize deductions and all medical expenses for the family must be more than 7.5 percent of income.
Tax planning usually suggests that the spouse with the lower income will get more benefit from deducting the medical expenses because lower income means it’s easier to reach the 7.5 percent threshold. The household can come out ahead with the supporting spouse deducting the expense if the spouse with less income isn’t able to itemize or has income low enough to pay little or no tax.
Married gay and lesbian couples with children face a complex set of rules, and the tax benefits related to children can be significant. Claiming a child as a dependent gives the taxpayer an additional $3,650 deduction plus, for some, the $1,000 child tax credit, a credit for child-care expenses, and an earned-income tax credit. Combined, these tax benefits can save a taxpayer with one child more than $4,000 in federal taxes.
A taxpayer’s biological child or adopted child can be claimed on the federal tax return if that child lived with the taxpayer for more than half that year. Whether any other child can be claimed on the federal return depends on the law in the state where the taxpayer lives.
New York, for example, recognizes same-sex marriages entered into outside of New York, although the state does not allow same-sex marriage within its own boundaries. New York law also recognizes the spouse of a married woman as the parent of any child born to that woman during the marriage. A married lesbian couple living in New York with a child born to the couple in New York will have a birth certificate for the child recognizing both women as the parents of the child. Married gay men don’t have the same recognition in New York and must complete a formal adoption procedure.
In both Kansas and Missouri, a gay or lesbian parent must be either a biological or an adopted parent to be recognized as the child’s parent. A married same-sex parent may claim an adoption credit for the cost of adopting his or her spouse’s child; a married straight couple would not be able to claim the adoption credit.
A spouse supporting a child that is not recognized by the state as that taxpayer’s child may still claim the child as a dependent, but may not use the head of household filing status or claim tax credits related to that child. When both spouses are recognized as parents of the child, either may claim the child as a dependent on the federal return.
If the parent who provides more than half the household support also claims the child as a dependent, he or she may also file as head of household. A married straight couple would not be able to file as head of household unless they lived apart for the last half of the year. A taxpayer filing as head of household will pay less tax than a taxpayer with the same income filing as single. With careful planning and recordkeeping, finances can often be arranged and expenses paid to ensure that more than half the household support will be paid by the spouse who will get the bigger tax savings.
Tax laws are complex and ever-changing, filled with opportunities and potential pitfalls. Although same-sex couples can’t share a joint federal tax return even if married, they can work together to benefit from savings hidden within the tax code.
Kathy Burlison, EA, helps her clients figure out the tax consequences of their decisions at SmartSpot in Prairie Village, Kan. She can be reached at email@example.com.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
· Can be self-collected under supervision by lightly-trained individuals (so no onsite medical professional required)
· Results within 24 hours of receipt at our lab
· Lab capacity to process tens of thousands of additional tests
· Manufacturing capacity to meet any order size
· Minimal PPE requirement due to the test’s self-collected method
Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at email@example.com.