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MINNEAPOLIS -- Check your calendars. It's tax time.

And for the more than 5,000 married same-sex couples in Minnesota, that means venturing into new and sometimes confusing territory.

Certified Public Accountants say the first thing same-sex couples need to know is that, in Minnesota, they're just like any other newlyweds.

"It's the same thing as opposite-sex couples getting married for the first time," said Christopher Wittich, MBT, CPA and Manager with Boyum & Barenscheer.

Wittich adds that also means couples will qualify for either the marriage bonus, or more often, the marriage penalty.

"If you're lower-income people, generally married is a good thing. For the higher-income taxpayers, it's almost always a bad thing," Wittich said.

More specifically, if a couple has similar or equal incomes, they may be pushed into higher tax brackets. However, if one spouse earns all or most of the couple's income, the couple may end up in a lower tax bracket.

Regardless of the positive or negative impact seen this year, Wittich said it's important to remember the long-term goals of planning for future income tax breaks and estate plans, given the federal rules changes.

"Married people can transfer property between themselves tax free. So that's a big benefit," Wittich said about the important changes in estate taxes.

Experts also point out same-sex couples are now eligible for the same flex and health savings accounts and retirement benefits as opposite-sex couples. For example, that means a non-working spouse can consider the working spouse's compensation to allow them to make an IRA contribution of up to $5,500 a year.

For Minneapolis residents Kent Allin and Tom Knabel, the legality of their marriage is now in black and white... on their tax forms.

"We pay more taxes this year," Allin said, with Knabel adding, "a lot more."

But for this couple -- together for 24 years and married first in Connecticut four years ago -- it's a small price to pay for an important symbol of their union.

"It's a validation. It's very important. We are probably happier paying the marriage penalty than many couples around the country," Knabel said.

Same-sex couples in Minnesota may file jointly at both the state and federal levels. Given that same-sex marriage is not legalized in Wisconsin, same-sex couples there must file separately at the state level and jointly at the federal level.

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