Accounting firm Marcum established a practice focused on LGBT and other non-traditional families to help these clients navigate the complex and often-changing tax and financial landscape. The practice is headed by Nanettee Lee Miller, who is based in Marcum’s San Francisco office, where she’s also a partner-in-charge of assurance services.
Marcum, among the nation’s 15 largest accounting firms, is among the few accounting firms to establish a practice focused on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It’s territory traversed earlier by wealth managers and personal finance advisers.
Marcum, based in New York with 23 offices primarily on the East and West coasts, has 40 professionals out of 1,100, with special training to deal with issues facing non-traditional families. Miller says Marcum’s new practice will provide LGBT clients with a range of services that include trust and estate planning, business formation and, of course, tax issues.
“Whether they are married, single, domestic partners or divorced, LGBT and non-traditional families deals with tax and financial issues that are byzantine, at best,” Miller said. “LGBT and non-traditional family accounting matters can be legislated by national, state or local government groups, or by regulation or judicial decision, requiring true expertise to navigate this complex web.”
Tax returns for California same-sex couples, for instance, have their income split between them since the federal government recognizes that property rights are determined by state law. But the federal government doesn’t allow joint returns since the federal government doesn’t recognize their unions. Or as one Californian in a same-sex marriage described it, “Imagine living in a world where the response to the question ‘Are you married?’ is ‘It depends on who is asking?’” Miller says even qualifying for a mortgage presents challenges as lenders try to interpret these tax returns to confirm income. She recognizes the initiative might be controversial with some, especially in light of last month’s controversy that Kraft (NYSE: KFT) stirred up with its Oreo cookie featured on Facebook, (NASDAQ: FB) with rainbow-color creme filling to recognize gay pride month. Several of the more than 20,000 comments were positive, but some were not.
“Kraft Foods has a proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness,” Kraft spokesman Basil Maglaris, told Reuters. “We feel the Oreo ad is a fun reflection of our values.”
Miller, who successfully made the case to Marcum to debut the new practice, said she and her colleagues have to keep up with the latest laws and court decisions affecting non-traditional families and assess their impact.
Marcum’s creation of a national practice on LGBT and other non-traditional families doesn’t bode well for clarity or equality to these relationships coming soon. ”We would not have built a national practice on an issue that would be resolved in a year or two,” Miller said. “This is a long-term issue.”
(From San Francisco Business Times by Mark Calvey, Senior Reporter)