Before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the United States last June, couples in 13 states still had to perform a complicated dance of filing separate tax returns, even if they had been legally married in another state.
This year will be the first time that those couples––and others who delayed marriage until the landmark court ruling––get to experience the joy of "married, filing jointly."
But not everyone is so thrilled.
Joe Hollar, a 43-year-old who lives in Florida, got married in March 2015 and is just now assessing his new tax situation. So far, it does not look so good.
"I am really naive because I did not know it was so complicated," he said.
His biggest concern is how to find a common approach for tax preparation––Hollar uses an accountant and takes itemized deductions; his husband does his own taxes and takes the standard deduction.
"It's not in his best interest to itemize, but I can't go any other way, I'll owe a fortune," Hollar said.
Here are three important tax lessons for gay couples.
1. It is now easier to file your taxes––and cheaper
Taxes for same-sex couples used to be so torturous that tax professionals developed specialties for navigating the process. Eve Davis, an enrolled agent in Portland, Oregon, who operates In or Out Tax Service, even gave classes to other tax preparers.
In some early-adopter states like Massachusetts, couples could file a joint state return, but had to file separate federal returns. When federal rules changed in 2013, those living in states that still restricted same-sex marriage had to file separate state returns but could file a joint federal return.