Part-time N.C. resident refusing to file taxes in protest of marriage ban
by Donald Miller
Tax Woes: Multi-millionaire under fire from IRS for refusing to file in protest of marriage ban.
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Q-Notes readers might remember a cover story in May of last year about N.C.-based artist and gay millionaire Charles Edwin Merrill, who comes from the same family as Charles Edward Merrill, one of the founders of Merrill Lynch & Co.
Merrill, a self-described “blue blood,” was once married to Princess Evangeline Zalstem-Zalessky. Born in 1897 in New Jersey, Evangeline Johnson was the daughter of Robert Wood Johnson, co-founder of the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson.
After Zalstem-Zalessky’s death in 1990 at the age of 93, Merrill met his partner Kevin Boyle in Los Angeles. The two maintain multiple residences, including their N.C. residence and house in Palm Springs. They continue to come under attack by the IRS for not filing income tax in protest on over two million in stock sales and income for 2004.
“I have no intention of paying Federal and State Income taxes because my same-sex partner and I cannot … receive the same-tax benefits as other married couples,” Merrill explained.
The IRS is withholding 28 percent of Merrill’s income until he files a report. Merrill and his partner Boyle have refused to file federal income tax because they feel the federal tax code is discriminatory towards domestic partners and do not extend the same benefits that married couples receive.
“We are atheists, so we don’t care what our civil union is called,” Merrill continues. “They can call it Un-sanctified Marriage By Heathens or Federal Civil Union, whatever. We just want the same federal tax benefits afforded to everyone else.” Merrill and his partner were named by Out last month as two of the 100 men and women who rocked 2006. Out magazine wrote in its December 2006 issue, “A marriage license in exchange for a tax payment — sounds reasonable to us.”
“Political candidates must be educated on federal tax discrimination issues,” Merrill stated from his home in Palm Springs, Calif. “Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama tap-dance around the marriage issue to please their crazy religious voter-base and pretend it is up to individual states to solve the problem. Even if every state in the union gave the same state benefits to domestic partners, that would still leave out the many federal tax benefits. The important federal issue is that domestic partners are ineligible for Social Security spousal or survivorship benefits and are typically considered non-spouse beneficiaries. Thus a surviving partner may be limited to taking a taxable lump-sum distribution upon inheriting 401(k) plan assets. If a spouse wants to change the designated beneficiary for a qualified retirement to someone other than his or her spouse, the beneficiary spouse must consent by signing a waiver. But a domestic partner can be disinherited as a designated beneficiary without even knowing it because such waivers do not apply to domestic partnerships.”