How does a Polygamous Family File Their Tax Returns? #sisterwives

How does a Polygamous Family File Their Tax Returns? #sisterwives January 9, 2014

Well, they don’t. At least, not as a polygamous family.

This morning, Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown spoke with me about a variety of issues.

One thing I asked them about was taxes. No, not what they thought about taxes. But, as a polygamist family, how do they file their taxes?

The Brown Family: Janelle, Christine, Kody, Meri, and Robyn.


As Adam Alba, one of their attorneys, pointed out to Approaching Justice right after the Brown v. Buhman ruling, only Kody and Meri are legally married. As a result, Kody files taxes jointly with Meri. Janelle, Christine, and Robin file as single. Kody does not claim any of the children from his marriages with Janelle, Christine, or Robin as deductions.

The recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups does not change this in anyway. It only prohibits the State of Utah from prosecuting people who live in a family arrangement like the Brown family does.

And they are not interested in going beyond that.

“We have never been interested in having legally recognized plural marriage,” Kody told me. Instead, they just want to be able to organize their family in the way they choose without being prosecuted or harrassed by the state.

“Can you imagine what a tax nightmare that would be,” Robyn said with a laugh.

Samuel Brunson, a tax law expert and assistant professor of law at the Loyola University School of Law, told Approaching Justice that “if polygamy were to become legal, the tax code would have to undergo significant changes to account for multiple spouses filing jointly. But we’re still probably a long way from there.”

But the Browns are not worrying about any of that. They told me that they just want to live their lives and follow their beliefs without the fear that came from being targeted by the government.

NOTE: Tomorrow, I will share more from my interview with the Browns. In particular, I will look at the how this family is influencing cultural perceptions of polygamy, their relationship with Mormonism, and a little more about them as a family.



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