Married same-sex couples, get ready for some capital gains good news. Now that you can file taxes jointly because the federal government recognizes your union, you also can experience the benefits of larger capital gain exclusion. Before 2013, when you were considered by the federal government to be single — even if you were legally married in a state that recognized same-sex unions — if you sold your principal residence, you didn't have to pay federal income tax on gains up to $250,000. However, now that you are married and filing jointly, you can exclude up to $500,000 of capital gains. You won't need to pay a bit of federal taxes until those gains reach $500,001.
Another benefit of being able to file jointly as a same-sex married couple is balance — at least when it comes to capital gains and losses. For example, if Jim experiences a significant capital gain in a tax year by selling his dry cleaning franchise, these gains are offset to the extent that his husband, George, shuttered the costume emporium he owned at a loss [source: Bischoff].
Author's Note: 10 Same-sex Marriage Tax Filing Tips
Following federal tax code is complicated enough, but for many years same-sex couples have been filing separate returns and often incurring additional costs along the way. The ability for a married couple to file a single tax return simplifies not only the process, but makes a greater variety of credits and exemptions available, too.
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The IRS or Internal Revenue Service handles taxes. Learn about the history of the IRS and how it enforces taxes.