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Marriage Equality = Tax Equality?

Article By Adam Hurwood | | Accounting & Tax

With same-sex marriage laws passed in December, the first ceremonies took place before Christmas. With many happy couples now able to legally marry, will this change the “spouse” definition for taxation and government entitlements? The short answer is no.

Same-sex relationships have been treated the same as heterosexual couples for taxation purposes since 1 July 2009. The government’s same sex law reform package passed through parliament over nine years ago extending the definition of ‘spouse’ so that both de facto relationships and registered relationships are both recognised for taxation and superannuation purposes. Your ‘spouse’ is a person (of any gender) who:

  • You were in a relationship with and is registered under state or territory law
  • Although not legally married to you, lives together on a genuine domestic basis in a relationship as a couple.

While your spouse’s income does not change your personal income tax rates, it does affect a range of tax obligations and concessions in the tax return, including:

  • Private health insurance rebate
  • Seniors and pensioners tax offset
  • Medicare levy reduction
  • Medicare levy surcharge

The same sex law reform package also aligned entitlements for same sex couples and their families in areas such as social security, family assistance, aged care and child support.

So, while the short answer is no, it’s because after almost a decade, legalised same sex marriage is now aligned with taxation and government entitlements.