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The seal of the state of Indiana hangs on the wall at the front of the House of Representatives chambers at the Indiana Statehouse. / The Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Senate on Tuesday deleted a state tax provision that would have inadvertently allowed same-sex couples to file joint tax returns in Indiana.

The step was necessary, a Senate GOP leader said, because of the potential impact of the federal government's decision last year to allow married same-sex couples to file federal tax returns jointly beginning this year.

Every year, said Republican Sen. Brandt Hershman, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the state Legislature chooses what portions of the federal tax code revisions to adopt in Indiana. He amended a broader bill that includes a variety of tax code changes to clarify Indiana's tax policy concerning same-sex couples.

"This only codifies current practice," Hershman. "This is not piling on or anything like that. ? It doesn't change a thing."

Yet a gay-rights advocacy group leader on Tuesday questioned why the move was necessary if same-sex couples can't file jointly in Indiana.

"I'm puzzled why we need legislative action to trump or somehow highlight in boldface what's already being done at the administrative level," said Rick Sutton, executive director of Indiana Equality Action.

He also said it's discriminatory and more costly for same-sex couples to file separate state tax returns when they can file joint federal returns, if they are legally married in another state.

After the federal tax filing change, the Indiana Department of Revenue issued an advisory opinion last November. It said each member of a same-sex couple must file a single-filer state tax return. The department suggested couples who file federal returns with a married filing status also fill out sample federal single-filer forms, dividing their income, and refer to those sample forms when filling out Indiana's tax return.

Because House bill was amended in the Senate, the House sponsor can agree or disagree with the changes. If the lawmaker disagrees, the bill will go to a joint House-Senate conference committee, where lawmakers will work out differences in the two versions.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Indiana bill: No joint returns for same-sex couples

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