Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Alaska Supreme Court Holds Tax Exemption Unconstitutionally Discriminates Against Same-Sex Couples

In State of Alaska v. Schmidt, (AK Sup. Ct., April 25, 2014), the Alaska Supreme Court held that a state tax exemption program that discriminates against same-sex couples violates the state constitution's equal protection clause. Same-sex marriages are not permitted or recognized in the state. Alaska exempts from municipal property tax up to $150,000 in value of a home of a senior citizen or disabled veteran.  The full exemption is available where the senior's or veteran's spouse who co-owns the home also lives there.  However the exemption is reduced where a same-sex partner who co-owns the home lives there. According to the court, this creates an equal protection problem:
we hold that committed same-sex domestic partners who would enter into marriages recognized in Alaska if they could are similarly situated to those opposite-sex couples who, by marrying, have entered into domestic partnerships formally recognized in Alaska.