The S.C. House’s top Democrat filed a proposal Thursday that would allow same-sex couples married in other states to file joint state tax returns in South Carolina.
The bill — H. 4461, filed by state Rep. Todd Rutherford of Richland County — comes as Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration has proposed a rule to require gay couples married in other states, but living in South Carolina, to file separate state tax returns.
S.C. voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2006. But gay marriage is legal in 16 other states and the District of Columbia. And the Internal Revenue Service has said legally married same-sex couples living in states where same-sex marriage is illegal still can file joint federal tax returns.
“Requiring legally married same-sex couples to file excess paperwork and additional tax forms is not only discriminatory, but it is a waste of time and tax dollars," Rutherford said in a news release. “By putting this additional burden on legally married couples, the state of South Carolina is intentionally creating bureaucratic red tape for political purposes. It simply isn’t right, and it is our responsibility to change this discriminatory policy.”
The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-dominated General Assembly. State Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he opposes the bill.
“I don’t think we should recognize same-sex marriage in any form,” he said. “It is going to boil down to a matter of religious liberty.”
Two S.C. residents — a trooper with the S.C. Highway Patrol and a former Richland County sheriff’s deputy — are challenging the state’s gay-marriage ban in federal court. The courts have struck down similar bans in other states, most recently in Oklahoma and Utah.
South Carolina’s two candidates for governor — Republican incumbent Nikki Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen — have said they do not support gay marriage. Neither candidates’ campaign responded to questions Thursday, asking if they would support gay couples filing joint state tax returns.
Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.