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Income Tax Fairness Stripped from N.Y. Budget Bill

Income Tax Fairness Stripped from N.Y. Budget Bill


A proposal that would have granted married same-sex couples in New York the ability to file state income taxes jointly was stripped from a budget bill Tuesday following opposition by antigay Democrat Ruben Diaz, Sr.

Governor David Paterson and lawmakers have been locked in negotiations for weeks, trying to pass a budget that is more than three months overdue. Now it appears that a $950 million revenue bill, one of the key remaining pieces, will be approved around midnight this Thursday, with amendments including the deletion of the income tax equality proposal.

According to the Associated Press, "Gone is a provision that would have allowed gay couples who were legally married in another state to file joint income tax returns in New York, where gay marriage is illegal. That's a concession to Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. of the Bronx, an ordained minister who opposes gay marriage. He threatened to vote against the revenue bill if the measure was included and that would have defeated the bill, because the Republican minority was expected to continue voting in a bloc against the budget bills."

Remarkably, Diaz framed his opposition as an attempt to spare same-sex couples the "insulting" invitation to file taxes together when the state does not allow them to legally marry. Of course, Diaz is one of the senators who voted against the marriage equality bill that failed by a wide margin in December. Watch his conversation with NY 1 below.

The language in the revenue bill originated in a bill introduced last week by gay assembly member Daniel O'Donnell. That bill would amend state tax code to fix a loophole and decouple state income tax status from federal income tax filing status, which does not recognize same-sex couples because of DOMA. New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions because of a 2008 executive order from Gov. Paterson.

"The problem is that the way the New York state tax code is written, you have to file the same status as on your federal tax return," said O'Donnell in an interview with The Advocate last week. "Even if the senate managed to pass marriage in New York, which they did not, we would have faced the same problem."

According to Liz Benjamin at State of Politics, O'Donnell plans to reintroduce an amended version of his bill this week.

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