"Yes", with regard to a California income tax return and "No" for a federal income tax return.
If you are a resident of California and you are in a committed relationship, have a common residence and meet the other requirements; you may register with the California Secretary of State a "Declaration of Domestic Partnership". Registered domestic partners may file Married Filing Jointly income tax returns in California.
However, the story is different with Federal income tax returns. Currently only a valid marriage between a man and a woman qualifies for MFJ filing status for a Federal income tax return. Domestic partners will have to choose unmarried filing status, although one of the partners may be able to qualify for the Head of Household filing status.
I have pasted a link below to the Secretary of State's website, where you can obtain the forms for registering your domestic partnership.
For tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2007, domestic partners are required to use the same filing status as married couples when filing taxes in California. However, since their status is not recognized under federal law, they must file as single when filing federal tax returns.
I am attaching a link to the Franchise Tax Board's Site for your review: http://www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/faq/dompart.shtml
The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.
CA recognizes domestic partners for tax purposes, but the federal government only recognizes marriages as between a man and a woman. Therefore, you can file a joint return for CA, but not a federal return. If one partner supports the other partner, then that partner can file a return claiming the partner he or she supports as a dependent.
Any individual seeking legal advice for their own situation should retain their own legal counsel as this blog provides information that is general in nature and not specific to any person's unique situation. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Advice given in this Blog cannot be used to eliminate penalties with the IRS or any other governmental agency.