Prof. Joshua Hawley was recently quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the lawsuit surrounding Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s recent decision to grant same-sex couples married in other states the ability to file joint tax returns. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue Gov. Nixon’s decision violates Missouri’s Constitution, because voters passed an amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage in 2004.
Prof. Hawley stated, “It’s a little unusual for an executive to be able to materially vary a state tax law by executive order. The federal government regulation which permits same-sex couples to file jointly certainly doesn’t compel the state to do the same.” Gov. Nixon’s decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. However, the Internal Revenue Service does permit same-sex couples to file joint tax returns no matter which state’s law would govern, because it operates under federal law.
Prof. Hawley further stated that Gov. Nixon’s decision may “substantially change tax liability,” and the question remains whether Gov. Nixon has “the administrative authority to change tax liability and filing requirements to issue this order.”