The phrase is from one of Benjamin Franklin's late letters:
Our Constitution is in actual operation. Everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.Not quite what it means to me, thanks to 1) the joint return I have to file as part of a married couple in California (which we were for 48 weeks of 2012) and 2) the individual returns I have to file with the federal government because we were also RDPs, or registered domestic partners with full community property rights in California, for the same 48 weeks. This turns out to be a forced incident of closure, like picking up the urn with Jim's ashes in it, thanks to the American tax system. Like the effect that the monthiversary of Jim's death has been having on me, I didn't expect this.
But First, A Word From Our Sponsor:
Top Comments recognizes the previous day's Top Mojo and strives to promote each day's outstanding comments through nominations made by Kossacks like you. Please send comments (before 9:30pm ET) by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by our KosMail message board. Just click on the Spinning Top to make a submission. Look for the Spinning Top to pop up in
diaries posts around Daily Kos.
Make sure that you include the direct link to the comment (the URL), which is available by clicking on that comment's date/time. Please let us know your Daily Kos user name if you use email so we can credit you properly. If you send a writeup with the link, we can include that as well. The
diarist poster reserves the right to edit all content.
Please come in. You're invited to make yourself at home!
No, they aren't done, and I actually don't expect to mail them until Saturday morning, but that's still on time. They aren't really complex. My income (three W-2 forms, some 1099s, and the State of California form certifying that I had unemployment insurance income -- my annual salary is paid over a 10 month period, and I do not get paychecks during July and August) and Jim's social security income. For California it's simple. I add everything up and enter it on one form. Never mind that I'm going to lose a deduction because I can't find our 2011 returns (I'll look for them again tonight), but it's simple.
But then there's the Federal form. For that, I DO get to use the 1040A form, because, again, it's simple, but I have to fill out two of them. Of course you know why, but let's just look at the language in Publication 555: Community Property. On page 2, it states that the publication is for married taxpayers in SOME community property states and also
for RDPs who are domiciled in Nevada, Washington or California and for individuals in California and Washington who, for state law purposes, are married to an individual of the same sex.Two paragraphs later, of course, it says
RDPs (and individuals in California and Washington who are married to an individual of the same sex) are not married for federal tax purposes.Yes, DOMA again. DOMA, DOMA, DOMA. I don't know whether this is adding insult to injury (I didn't react badly to it, I just took it as a matter of course), but on page 9, in a section called End of the Community and a subsection called Death of spouse, the document says
this rule does not apply to RDPs [obviously] and individuals married to a same-sex spouse in California and Washington.And that, thank you, is the crux of Windsor v United States (2013). As Amy Davidson wrote in The New Yorker at the end of the week when the case was heard by the Supreme Court,
In American jurisprudence, it is state law that says who is married, even if federal law can determine what a married couple can get, like the spousal estate-tax exemption that Windsor, a widow, was denied. . . The Supreme Court and federal Constitution can play a role—as they did in Loving v. Virginia, when the Court ruled that people could not be denied the right to marry for no reason other than their race. So DOMA has two potential problems: federalism and equal protection.In either case, it creates what Justice Ginsburg memorably called "skim-milk marriage." Here I am, contemplating the final saying goodbye to a "skim-milk marriage." With all its limitations, it still felt like the real thing to me,
It's not like I'm unaware of the implications here, as I wrote while the Supreme Court was hearing the cases. It's just that I thought this would proceed at my own pace, and I didn't expect (well, maybe I put this off because I DID sense this) to be forced to say another formal goodbye four months later. Well, so it is, as this is the last thing I get to do for Jim. From now on, it's for Jim's memory. I'm both glad and sorry I was scheduled for tonight.
And now for the stuff that makes this Top Comments: