Rob and Clay Calhoun with adopted children Jimmy, 7, and Rainey, 11.
Atlanta tax accountant Michael Perling
ATLANTA -- Many same sex marriage advocates cheered when the IRS changed its rules last week so all legally married U.S. couples can file married tax returns, no matter where they live.
But reality and confusion are just now beginning to sink in, especially in 37 states like Georgia that don't recognize same sex marriages.
First of all, the IRS decision means all legally married couples must now file as married; they don't have a choice.
For those who both make good incomes that will mean higher taxes thanks to the so-called "marriage penalty".
But for some, like Rob and Clay Calhoun of DeKalb County, who were legally married in Massachusetts, it will mean fewer taxes.
Since one is a stay at home parent, the other will now be able to claim him and their two adopted children as dependents.
"For our whole family, to get a bigger tax refund, that's a big deal to us," Rob Calhoun told 11Alive News on Tuesday evening.
But that's on their federal tax return.
Since Georgia doesn't accept their out of state same sex marriage, their state income tax form could be a big problem.
"If states don't recognize the marriage, they'd have to file as single people," said tax accountant Michael Perling of Atlanta's Birnbrey, Minsk, Minsk & Perling firm.
Perling told 11 Alive that means couples like Rob and Clay could end up filing as many as 3 separate returns: 1 married federal return and 2 single ones for state taxes.
It could end up costing them more to prepare and the state more to process.
"It's a hardship and all the paperwork and all the chaos it's creating, 'cause we are legally married," said Rob Calhoun.
"It remains to be seen what Georgia will do and I'm sure they'll need some time to evaluate the options," said accountant Perling.
A state tax spokesperson sent 11Alive a statement saying, "Due to the complexity of the law the Georgia Department of Revenue is currently reviewing the Treasury Department decision."
Another complication is that Georgia recognizes federal tax law as its guide, but only based on what that law is on January first of each year.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling against much of the Defense of Marriage Act came in June and the IRS ruling just last week, it's still not clear if Georgia will react to those changes before next year.