Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Gay Tax

I have already discussed our dilemma with shipping our vehicle to Mexico here and here. I THINK I have finally resolved the problem, but I am NOT happy about it. At all.

In order for the US Government to ship our car, it has to either be in TJ's name, or he has to be married to the person who owns it. What's a new Foreign Service family to do?!?

Plan A: Let's get married! What's that? Oh, right. We can't.

Plan B: Let's just refinance through the current lien holder, Wells Fargo. That way, we can both be on the title! Oh, wait. Wells Fargo won't provide a letter authorizing exportation of the vehicle. Because it isn't for my job. And because we aren't married.

Plan C: Let's refinance with USAA. We can add both of our names to the title, AND they will provide the appropriate documentation for export.

Plan C ended up working like a charm. The only catch was that I had to fly down to Orlando yesterday to fill out paperwork and write a check for about $150, which would cover change-of-title and renewal of vehicle registration. I could have done that here in Virginia, but Orlando is home and we have both agreed that we will take whatever steps necessary to maintain our Florida residency.

We had this timed out perfectly: Arrive in Orlando at 11am. Allow 3 hours for the DMV. Stop by old job to visit coworkers. Drive by the house to make sure the tenants hadn't destroyed the place yet. Return rental car by 5:00pm and hope security wasn't so crazy that I would miss my 6:50pm flight.

Everything went first. Flight landed at 11am. By 11:55 I had not only rented a car but secured my place in line at the Tag Agency. The deed was done by 2:30, and I stopped by CuraScript to say hi to my peeps. We chatted for an hour or so and then I drove to the house.

As I sat parked on the street, rain blasting my windshield, I felt like I should be on "To Catch a Predator: Home Edition." Is it stalking if you own the property? Is it wrong to sit out on the street and scan for any changes to the landscape? Would it be wrong to knock on the door and ask for a tour? Would anyone freak out if they caught me in the backyard, checking on the citrus tree I had planted for TJ's birthday last year? These are questions I didn't get to ponder for very long, because the phone rang. I was needed at the Tag Agency. Something about taxes. If I didn't come today, the title that had been issued earlier would be cancelled. The time was 4:25. I needed to be at the airport in 35 minutes.

I barreled down the road, being far more reckless than I had any right to be given the heavy rain. But I'll be darned if I was going to miss my flight because Little Miss Thing at the DMV couldn't do her job right the first time around.

When I arrived I demanded two things: 1) To know what was going on, and 2) To have a power outlet to charge my phone (even in crisis mode, I want to make sure my access to Facebook, texting, and the Internet goes uninterrupted).

The issue required phone calls to Wells Fargo and USAA to resolve. The clerk hadn't realized that I was refinancing with a different bank, and she needed to find out the pay-off amount so that she could charge me sales tax. In the end, I had to pay $300 more than originally quoted.

Why, you ask?

Because I am gay.

When a married couple refinances a loan, they are not taxed.

When a gay couple refinances a loan, they are taxed. Because they are not married. Despite the fact that they would likely be quite HAPPY to get married, given the chance.

When a straight, single person refinances a loan, he/she is taxed.

So basically, what I learned yesterday was that, in the eyes of the Florida government, my 7-year relationship is worth no more than being single.

I didn't miss my flight, which made me happy. But as I sat in the terminal, waiting for my boarding call, I did begin to question why we are trying so hard to maintain our Florida residency.


  1. Sounds like a lot of incompetence and BS. I don't understand the sales tax. You weren't selling the vehicle, just transferring the title. You've already paid sales tax on it. It just doesn't make sense.

  2. Well, yeah, that's what I thought, too. I sure wish it had been you behind the counter!

  3. Infuriating! I quoted and linked to you here:

  4. Digger - Thanks for the link!
    DU - Where in the world have you and your blog disappeared to?

  5. Haha oh Aar...too much is going on. Feel free to email me at :-( I am glad you are still blogging as often, I still enjoy reading!

  6. Aaron - you may well be my new favorite person. As I dig (and dig, and dig, and...really, like a dog in the backyard after some elusive skeletal remain...) everything and anything I can about the foreign service, I have gathered very little on the challenges gays face (have faced/will face). My partner of 10 years has agreed to let me dabble in this FSO thing, but I'm not sure he knows what we'll be getting into. I've only taken my first test, so we have some time to work things out. I'm eternally optimistic, however, so of course I've decided it's going to happen. Meanwhile, I daydream about a post in Central or South America where I can put those Spanish skills to use.

    In any case, I was thrilled to find your blog, so thank you...keep blogging...and I will keep reading.

  7. Thanks for the kind words! The entire purpose of this blog is to either share our experiences with family & friends or provide useful info to new and potential foreign service families. If I can help someone coming from a background similar to our own, so much the better!