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Jenner & Block Partners Gail H. Morse and Mary C. Downie, along with Deloitte Tax Partner James C. Calzaretta, offered financial advice on legal and tax planning for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) singles and couples during an April 20 session at the Deloitte offices in Chicago.
Each speaker addressed topics that focused on ensuring decision-making rights for partners that matter most to GLBT individuals. Attending were nearly three dozen employees from such leading companies as Allstate, CNA Financial Corporation, Pepsi, Inc./Quaker Oats Company, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Ms. Morse, head of the Firm’s State and Local Tax Practice and member of the Firm’s Tax Controversy Practice, told the seminar attendees that the “different stages of life” require different approaches to financial planning and tax preparation for every person.” She said that in addition to the social injustice gay couples may feel as a result of not being able to legally marry, a couple’s financial situation can prove uniquely confusing and complex when filing tax returns or planning for estate taxes, social security benefits, or pensions.
Ms. Downie, a Partner who concentrates her practice in sophisticated estate and tax planning, addressed the basics of federal and state estate taxation. According to Ms. Downie, it is important to plan for uncertainty and to maintain control of assets by updating one's estate planning documents on a regular basis. Ms. Downie addressed the unique legal issue of property ownership for GLBT couples and the necessary steps for ensuring that couples are able to retain ownership of shared possessions after one partner passes away.
Mr. Calzaretta, a Partner with Deloitte Tax, discussed income tax issues with the attendees, comparing tax rates for married and single taxpayers, dispelling the myth that married taxpayers always pay less tax than single taxpayers, and the complication caused to individuals who may be legally married or in a recognized domestic partnership for state purposes but not for federal tax purposes.
Thomas A. Dunn, a lead of GLOBE & Allies — the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender ("GLBT") business resource groups for the Deloitte U.S. firms — organized the seminar.
Globe & Allies is planning a follow-up seminar with Ms. Morse, Ms. Downie, and Mr. Calzaretta in June on retirement planning for unmarried couples as part of Citywide Pride, a month-long program of events to celebrate diversity in the workplace sponsored by Chicago companies during June.