How gay marriage in NY affects couples’ finances

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New York will become the sixth and largest state to allow gay marriages on July 24. The change raises a slew of issues for same-sex couples, including rights on adoption and the settling of estates. But the most pressing issues for many are how taxes and health insurance benefits will be affected.

Here’s a look at what same-sex couples can expect.

TAXES

The new law will afford gay couples the right to file joint state returns, which could result in considerable savings. But federal taxes are still off the table because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

That means taxes could be a lot more complicated for gay couples who decide to file jointly in New York. That’s because they’ll need to reconcile any differences with their federal forms.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Some gay couples in New York may already work for companies that extend health benefits to domestic partners. But now those couples may have to marry to continue enjoying the benefit.

That’s because employers sometimes change their policies to require gay couples living in states that allow same-sex marriage to wed in order get health benefits for their partners. For example, IBM Corp. and defense contractor Raytheon Co. say they will now require New York employees to be married to receive benefits. The idea is to have the same standards for gay and straight couples when possible.

A little more than a third of U.S. employers offer domestic partner health care coverage for same-sex couples, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.