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Volume 34
Issue 24
 
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State likely to benefit financially if same-sex couples wed, study finds
State likely to benefit financially if same-sex couples wed, study finds
$5.7 million to be gained annually from state's wedded couples

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

A new study released Thursday from a think tank at the UCLA School of Law, says that Washington State can expect to gain $3.9 million to $5.7 million annually by allowing same-sex couples to wed.

The study predicts that the weddings would be a boon for the state's wedding-related businesses that could see a $63 million annual increase in demand from the almost 8,000 same-sex couples from our state likely to marry. The retail sales tax revenues could climb even higher if couples from other states travel to Washington seeking to tie-the-knot.

"What we found - in terms of thinking about same-sex couples and their weddings - was that they spent roughly comparable amounts to what different sex couples spend," said Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute and co-author of the study. "In Washington State, I think that we estimated that people spend about $28,000 per wedding. We also estimated that for couples that live in Seattle, it wouldn't be quite that much. They might only be spending a quarter of that amount. Even if the 8,000 couples we predict will marry spend only $7,000; that is a big boost to the state's businesses of about 57 million dollars. That would result in additional tax revenues to the state of about $3.7."

The state will also benefit from the cost savings that may result from the people who may no longer qualify for public assistance, such as TANF or Medicaid, because they would have to include their partner's income when their eligibility is determined.

"We wanted to make it available to lawmakers and the general public and the State, because there are often misperceptions about what the impact would be," she added. "A lot of the discussion on the issue of marriage focuses on the rights of marriage or the benefits of marriage and those things sound like they are going to come with a price tag. What people often forget though, is that there are often a lot of liabilities that come with marriage. Whether it's having a big wedding or taking care of one's partner, the state doesn't have to be on the hook financially."

The studies other findings include:

o Any impact on estate tax revenue will be negligible.

o Administrative cost increases will be minimal.

o No increases in court system expenditures are likely to result.

o Same-sex marriage will have no impact on property tax revenue.

o The State will experience a minor decrease in real estate excise tax revenue.

o The State will incur a slight increase in costs for State employment retirement benefits.

According to Badgett, the other states studied by the Williams Institute, such as New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Vermont and New Jersey, all reached similar conclusions. "We have found that this is a very typical finding. States will save money," she said.

Likewise, a study by the U.s. Congressional Budget Office had found that the Federal government would save about $1 billion dollars a year if they were to allow same-sex couples to marry.

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