In the three years since Ireland voted in favour of equal marriage, the Revenue’s computer system has yet to be updated to recognise many couples’ unions.
This applies to couples who were civil partners (CP) and subsequently married after May 2015.
This has no consequences from a tax standpoint as civil partners and married couples are treated identically for tax payments and credits, but the system can not dissolve the status of civil partnership and update married couples to spouses.
As reported in the Irish Times:
“‘The status of civil partnership cannot be dissolved on our system,” a spokeswoman said. Revenue is “endeavouring to devise a workaround” but does not know how many couples are affected.”
Revenue Trivialising Concerns
Dublin couple John O’Sullivan and Seamus White married in March 2016. They were already civil partners when they made the decision to get married.
They sent their marriage certificate to the Revenue in July that year. They told the Irish Times, “I didn’t chase it up. I assumed it would take a few months for the changes to be made. We are both part-time lecturers, so we need our tax-credit certificates to swap credits around. In January 2017 we got our tax-credit certificates and it still said ‘civil partners’.
“So I rang them and asked why we weren’t recognised as husband and husband, and they said they were ‘working on it’. They said there was an issue and they would get back to me, but they didn’t. I rang a few times, and they just kept saying they’d get back to me.
“I know it’s not the most pressing issue in the world, but it’s frustrating and it’s hurtful. We were civil partners and we made a decision – a very important decision to us – to be married. The voters recognised our right to change our status, but Revenue doesn’t seem to. It’s frustrating that we have to keep chasing a State agency to recognise our marriage almost two years after we got married.”
A total of 1,082 marriages were performed in the twelve months following the introduction of the marriage referendum bill, with county registrars performing an average of twenty-one same-sex weddings each week.
“It beggars belief that Revenue, with plenty of time to prepare, are still unable to recognise all of these couples as being married,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
The Revenue spokeswoman emphasised that this civil partner and married couples are entitled to equal tax treatment.
“Since November 16th, 2015, following the enactment of the Marriage Act 2015, the provisions of the Taxes Consolidation Act apply to all married couples, regardless of whether the marriage is between two persons of the opposite sex or of the same sex. Couples who have entered into a civil partnership are also taxed in the same manner. The tax treatment of civil partners and married couples are identical.
“The facility to designate individuals in a same-sex marriage as spouses on Revenue systems is not yet available, but the necessary IT development is planned by Revenue. In the meantime, it is important to emphasise that married same-sex couples are being treated equally for tax purposes.”
Mr O’Sullivan said there seems to be a lack of urgency at Revenue to rectify the situation for couples like him and his husband. He said civil partnerships have fewer legal protections than marriages, and “Revenue’s attitude seems to trivialise” their concerns.
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