Advocacy Encourages H&R Block to Accommodate Gay Couples in Civil Unions
Settimio Pisu and Jason Smith
Jason Smith of Hartford, Connecticut, has been with his partner Settimio Pisu for six years. But when Jason attempted to file their tax returns with H&R Block’s online service, TaxCut Online, he was told, “We don’t support Connecticut civil union returns.” Through its website, the company said the couple would have to work with one of their professionals, by phone or at one of their office locations, to file their taxes – services that are not only more time consuming, but substantially more expensive. The ACLU sent a demand letter to H&R Block demanding that it change its online system to accommodate gay couples in Connecticut with civil unions.
According to the letter the ACLU sent to H&R Block, failing to provide gay couples with civil unions the option of filing their taxes online as it does for married couples is in violation of a state law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and civil union status. The letter demands that the company adapt its website to accommodate couples with civil unions and to reimburse all couples who were forced to pay the additional charges due to H&R Block’s discriminatory practices. Although the tax requirements for couples with civil unions in Connecticut are very similar to the requirements for married gay couples in Massachusetts, H&R Block’s online tax preparation service seems to accommodate married gay couples there.
Status: On July 15, 2008, H&R Block agreed to give $100 coupons or free TaxCut software to all gay couples who incurred additional costs because they were barred from using the company’s online tax service. The company also agreed to direct future tax filers with civil unions to a free online support specialist to help couples complete their taxes.