Samantha Schmid


In 1996 the United States Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which codified the federal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. But in 2013 the United States Supreme Court struck down this definition of marriage and, for the first time, the federal government began recognizing same-sex marriages. However, many states, including Wisconsin, continued to have state bans on same-sex marriage, and many of these bans have recently been challenged in state and federal courts. The effect of this has been a patchwork of laws that provide same-sex couples different rights based upon the state in which they live. One area where the definition of marriage has had a profound impact on the lives of same-sex couples has been in tax law—specifically income tax law. Since 2013, the federal government has allowed same-sex married couples to file their federal income taxes jointly. However, many state governments have continued to require these same couples to file their state income taxes separately. Thus, many married same-sex couples have been denied the rights and benefits afforded to married couples under state tax codes. This Comment urges the Wisconsin legislature to continue to allow married same-sex couples to file their Wisconsin state income tax returns jointly, regardless of any future Supreme Court decision regarding the legality of state marriages laws banning same-sex marriages.