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Gay Marriage: More Weddings = More Sales Tax Revenue


 2014: The Year many states embrace gay marriage.

Update, 10.20.2014: Two U.S. District Court judges have struck down gay marriage bans in Arizona and Wyoming. Gay couples are now able to marry in Arizona, where the attorney general will not appeal the decision. In Wyoming, where an appeal has been neither announced nor rejected, the ban is set lift on October 23. Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court has cleared the path for same-sex couples to marry in Alaska. Additional information.

2014 may go down in U.S. history as the Year Gay Marriage Became Widely Legal. That could mean much money will flow into states where it’s allowed.

UCLA’s Williams Institute, founded in 2001 and dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, has recently released a number of reports on the impact of same-sex marriage on various state economies. The verdict is clear: states “would benefit from marriage for same-sex couples.”

In Wisconsin, which the 2010 U.S. Census says is home to 9,179 same-sex couples, the first year of legalized gay marriage could “bring over $21.9 million in revenue to the state….” The first three years could add “$1.9 million in sales tax revenue to state and local coffers.”

Gay marriage could bring an additional $6.8 million to the state economy of Idaho in the first year and over $400,000 in sales tax revenue during the first three years.

Should same-sex marriage be made legal in Alaska, where an estimated 1,228 gay couples live, the state could bring in additional $5.1 in revenue in the first year and more than $135,000 in sales tax revenue during the first three years.

You see the trend. And while the accuracy of these predictions is yet to be determined, there are indications that same-sex marriages do add to state coffers.

For example, gay marriage brought an additional $259 million the first year it was legal in New York City: marriage licenses were sold, venues rented, caterers hired, wedding apparel purchased. In Washington State, where the average wedding budget is between $35,000 and $40,000, same-sex marriages now account for 17 percent of weddings. Wedding planner Jenny Harding notes, “That’s a lot of money being pumped into not just the wedding industry… but also the hotels, the restaurants.”

The following states legalized same-sex marriage in 2014:

  • Idaho: October 13 (court decision)
  • North Carolina: October 10 (court decision)
  • Nevada, October 9 (court decision)
  • West Virginia: October 9 (court decision)
  • Colorado: October 7, (court decision)
  • Indiana, October 6 (court decision)
  • Oklahoma, October 6 (court decision
  • Utah, October 6 (court decision)
  • Virginia, October 6 (court decision)
  • Wisconsin, October 6 (court decision)
  • Illinois, June 1 (state legislature)
  • Pennsylvania: May 20, (court decision)
  • Oregon, May 19 (court decision)

2014 saw gay marriage bans overturned in the states listed below; however, appeals to keep the bans are in progress.

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Texas

Same-sex marriage is still an emotionally charged issue, and one that is strongly contested in some areas of the country. The following states have bans in place:

  • Alabama (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Alaska (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Arizona (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Arkansas (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Florida (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Georgia (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Kansas (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Kentucky (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Louisiana (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Michigan (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Mississippi (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Missouri (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Montana (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Nebraska (constitutional amendment only)
  • North Dakota (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • South Carolina (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • South Dakota (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Tennessee (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Texas (constitutional amendment and state law)
  • Wyoming (state law)

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc


Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.