Same-sex couple gets exemption from realty-transfer tax

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In what is believed to be a first, the Board of Appeals of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue last week reversed an earlier decision that would have mandated a same-sex couple pay a tax for a real-estate transfer.

The decision is believed to be the first from the agency’s Board of Appeals regarding real-estate transfer tax following this spring’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

The finding came in the case of Donna Torrisi and Judith Palmer, who were legally wed in New York. Last fall, the Bureau of Individual Taxes found that Torrisi had to pay a tax on $215,772.20, one-half of the “computed value” of the property, for adding Palmer to the deed of her home. At that time, same-sex spouses were not exempt from the real-estate transfer tax, as were heterosexual spouses.

However, the Board of Appeals reversed that finding July 9, citing U.S. District Judge John Jones’ May 20 ruling.

“As the immediate transaction falls within the familial exclusion, the transaction is excluded … it is hereby ordered that the realty-transfer tax deficiency as assessed by the department be stricken in its entirety.”

The case was handled by Jerner & Palmer, P.C.