The federal government and many state governments do not recognize registered domestic partnerships (RDPs), civil unions, or same-sex marriages and therefore give same-sex couples no other choice than to file single tax returns.
However, a growing number of states either allow or require same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns. That means those couples can file as married with their state, but must still file as single with the IRS.
TurboTax can help with this. Although you can (in theory) use TurboTax Online for RDP, civil union, or same-sex marriage returns, we strongly recommend using TurboTax CD/Download Software (CD or download) to save considerable time and money.
Tip: Did you already start your RDP return in TurboTax Online? Don't lose all your hard work! You can transfer your Online return to the CD/Download software version. Here's how.
When you fill out your personal information in TurboTax (on the Personal Info tab) you will be asked if you were married as of December 31 of that tax year.
If your resident state allows you to file a joint return with your partner, you will see additional options on the Were You Married? screen. For example, California residents will see the options Registered Domestic Partnership and same-sex marriage, in addition to single, married, divorced, etc.
The exact options on your screen may vary, depending on the terminology your state uses to define its legal recognition of same-sex relationships. If you don't see these options, it's because your state doesn't – or didn't – recognize same-sex partnerships or marriages for tax filing purposes (in which case, you'll choose single
When you get to the next screen, TurboTax will provided instructions on how to go about filing your tax returns. As of this writing, same-sex couples must file single returns with the IRS.
After you finish preparing your respective single federal returns, TurboTax will prompt you to create a mock joint federal return to file only with your state return. This mock return is not filed with the IRS. Its only purpose is to transfer your combined income and deductions to your joint state return.
When all is said and done, you and your partner will have created four returns; three federal returns (two single federal returns for the IRS and one mock federal return for your state) and one state return. It's a bit complicated, but TurboTax will walk you through it every step of the way.