Gay-rights advocates, however, warned gay couples against inviting the wrath of the IRS by filing their taxes jointly as married people if the status means they will end up paying less in taxes to the government. Better, they say, to file as singles or to calculate their taxes a couple of ways — single and married filing separately, for example — and then submit the return that forces them to pay the most.That's awfully harsh advice! It seems to me that if you're paying less as a single taxpayer and federal law defines marriage not to include yours, you should just follow the federal law and save money. Is that unprincipled?
"Even if you're wrong in the end, you don't face the consequence of underpaying," said Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle attorney who sits on the board of Lambda Legal, a national gay-advocacy group. "You're not in the position of owing back taxes, interest and penalties. And it keeps you on the moral high ground, showing that you're willing to undertake the obligations that go along with marriage."
UPDATE: The non-harsh, important part of that advice is not to choose "married filing jointly" if that gives you lower taxes than single, because you'll be underpaying within the standards of federal law and subject to penalties.