Tag Archives: resources

National Parks Service lifts restrictions on naming rights, clears way for commercialism

After months of reviewing public comments, the National Park Service announced director Jonathan Jarvis signed and finalized “Director’s Order #21,” a policy allowing federal parks to seek donations from corporate vendors, allowing the parks service to partner with alcohol companies, dropping the policy that parks must be free of commercialism and lifting restrictions on naming rights in parks.

This is a statement from Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert Program:

It is disgraceful that the parks service plans to sell our national parks to the highest bidder despite overwhelming public opposition to increased commercialism in our national parks. More than 215,000 petition signers and hundreds of commenters opposed this policy.

Now that this policy has been finalized, park visitors soon could be greeted with various forms of advertisements, like a sign reading “brought to you by McDonald’s” within a new visitor’s center at Yosemite, or “Budweiser” in script on a park bench at Acadia.

The NPS did make one right move by removing a provision from the policy that would have allowed corporate logos to be placed on exhibits and waysides.

In a society where we are constantly inundated with advertisements everywhere we go, national parks offered a unique and beautiful escape. Even in schools, students endure a constant barrage of billboards, social media advertising and marketing. Until now, national parks have remained relatively commercial-free, which is why they were such a valuable respite.

The finalization of Director’s Order #21 signals a dangerous shift toward opening our parks up to an unprecedented amount of commercial influence.

Shielded Native American sites thrust into debate over dams

A little-known federal program that avoids publicizing its accomplishments to protect from looters the thousands of Native American sites it’s tasked with managing has been caught up in a big net.

The Federal Columbia River System Cultural Resources Program tracks some 4,000 historical sites that also include homesteads and missions in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Now it’s contributing information as authorities prepare a court-ordered environmental impact statement concerning struggling salmon and the operation of 14 federal dams in the Columbia River Basin.

A federal judge urged officials to consider breaching four of those dams on the Snake River.

“Because of the scale of the EIS, there’s no practical way for us, even if we wanted to, to provide a map of each and every site that we consider,” said Sean Hess, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Pacific Northwest Region archaeologist. “There are some important sites out there that we don’t talk about a lot because of concerns about what would happen because of vandalism.”

Fish survival, hydropower, irrigation and navigation get the most attention and will be components in the environmental review due out in 2021. But at more than a dozen public meetings in the four states to collect feedback, the cultural resources program has equal billing. Comments are being accepted through Jan. 17.

The review process is being conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, an umbrella law that covers the well-known Endangered Species Act. Thirteen species of salmon and steelhead on the Columbia and Snake rivers have been listed as federally protected species over the past 25 years.

But NEPA also requires equal weight be given to other laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act, which is where the cultural resources program comes in. Among the 4,000 sites are fishing and hunting processing areas, ancestral village areas and tribal corridors.

“People were very mobile, prehistorically,” said Kristen Martine, Cultural Recourse Program manager for the Bonneville Power Administration.

Some of the most notable sites with human activity date back thousands of years and are underwater behind dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Celilo Falls, a dipnet fishery for thousands of years, is behind The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. Marmes Rockshelter was occupied 10,000 years ago but now is underwater behind Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake River.

“If we’re breaching dams, it would definitely change how we manage resources,” said Gail Celmer, an archaeologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon ordered the environmental review in May after finding that a massive habitat restoration effort to offset the damage that dams in the Columbia River Basin pose to Northwest salmon runs was failing.

Salmon and steelhead runs are a fraction of what they were before modern settlement. Of the salmon and steelhead that now return to spawn each year, experts say, about 70 to 90 percent originate in hatcheries.

Those opposed to breaching the Snake River dams to restore salmon runs say the dams are an important part of the regional economy, providing irrigation, hydropower and shipping benefits.

Meanwhile, several tribes said they are better able to take part in the review process than they once were.

“Tribes have not had much opportunity to participate in these things because they didn’t have professional staff or trained people,” said Guy Moura of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington state, noting the tribe employed four people in its cultural resources program in 1992 but now has 38. “With growth in size, there also came the evolution of what was being done.”

The tribe at one time had a large fishery at Kettle Falls, on the upper part of the Columbia River, but it was inundated in the 1940s behind Grand Coulee Dam. Dams farther downstream on the Columbia prevent salmon from reaching the area.

Also among the 4,000 historical sites is Bonneville Dam, one of 14 dams involved in the environmental impact statement. Bonneville Dam is the lowest dam in the system at about 145 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River. It started operating in the 1930s and became a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Cities struggle as big box retailers fight to minimize tax assessments

Some big-box retailers in Wisconsin have successfully challenged their tax assessments by claiming they should pay the same rate as a store that’s closed and remains vacant.

Critics say that “dark store” legal loophole could cause municipalities to raise residential taxes to make up the difference.

The legal tactic is relatively new and has some cities struggling to keep up, according to Rocco Vita, chairman of the Wisconsin Association of Assessing Officers’ Legislative Committee.

“The stores have this very polished and professional legal team that peddles a product — property tax mitigation strategies,” Vita said. “All of a sudden, this strategy is gaining power in the Midwest. It has taken people by surprise.”

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue requires property tax assessors to account for the fair market value of a property. That includes both the value of the building and its location.

Retailers have successfully argued in court that there should be no tax difference between their thriving businesses and the vacant retailers down the block, Vita said.

In one case, Menards argued in a lawsuit filed in July that the value of its store in Fond du Lac assessed by the city at $9.2 million should be no more than $5.2 million. A similar lawsuit from Target argues that Fond du Lac should reduce its taxes on the retailer by about a third, according to USA Today Network-Wisconsin.

In another case, Oshkosh was ordered to pay Walgreens nearly $306,000 in overcharged taxes, plus court fees and interest. Last summer, two similar lawsuits surfaced from Menards and Lowe’s.

Oshkosh City Attorney Lynn Lorenson said municipalities are worried that as retailers win these lawsuits, more stores will follow. The limits of the loophole are unclear, she said.

“If one type of business or one type of property gets more favorable treatment, then everybody is going to be looking at that,” Lorenson said. “They’ll say, ‘If Walgreens had success, maybe we can use a similar argument.””

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities has helped draft legislation to plug the loophole, according to Curt Witynski, the league’s assistant director. The league hopes lawmakers will introduce in January.

Canadian prime minister makes pipeline decisions

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has approved one controversial pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast, but rejected another.

He approved Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia , but rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, B.C.

These are the first major pipeline decisions for Trudeau, whose Liberal government is trying to balance the oil industry’s desire to tap new markets in Asia with environmentalists’ concerns.

“The project will triple our capacity to get Canadian energy resources to international markets beyond the United States,” Trudeau said at an Ottawa news conference. “We took this decision today because we believe it is in the best interests of Canada.”

Alberta, which has the world’s third largest oil reserves, needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. Approving Trans Mountain helps diversify Canada’s oil exports. Ninety-seven percent of Canadian oil exports now go to the U.S.

“We are getting a chance to sell to China and other new markets at better prices,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said. “And we’re getting a chance to reduce our dependence on one market and therefore be more economically independent.”

Houston-based Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to Vancouver Harbour in Burnaby will increase the capacity of an existing pipeline from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

But there remains opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia, the birthplace of the Greenpeace environmental movement. There is no guarantee it will get built despite Trudeau’s approval as it faces strong opposition from environmentalists and indigenous leaders. Vancouver, B.C. Mayor Gregor Robertson said he was profoundly disappointed by Trudeau’s decision and said it would bring seven times the number of oil tankers to Vancouver’s waters.

Interim federal opposition Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said she supports the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, but doubts it will be built because of the opposition.

Trudeau rejected the Northern Gateway project to northwest British Columbia which passes through the Great Bear Rainforest. Northern Gateway would have transported 525,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China.

About 220 large oil tankers a year would have visited the Pacific coast town of Kitimat. The fear of oil spills is especially acute in the pristine corner of northwest British Columbia, with its snowcapped mountains and deep ocean inlets. Canadians living there still remember the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off an Alaska export hub. 1989.

Trudeau also promised to introduce legislation for a moratorium on crude oil tanker shipping on B.C.’s north coast.

“The Great Bear Rainforest is no place for a pipeline and the Douglas Channel is no place for oil tanker traffic,” Trudeau said.

Northern Gateway was approved by the previous Conservative government but a federal appeals court blocked it, ruling that aboriginal communities had not been adequately consulted. That put the decision on Northern Gateway in Trudeau’s hands.

Trudeau also approved an Enbridge pipeline replacement called Line 3 that will carry oil from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest. That pipeline will carry oil from Alberta, through northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin. The Line 3 project would nearly double the existing pipeline’s volume to 760,000 barrels a day.

Notley said Trans Mountain and Line 3 are critical to the oil-rich province’s economic future.

The importance of Trudeau’s decisions on pipelines only grew after the Obama administration turned down TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would have taken Alberta oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast. President-elect Donald Trump has expressed support for Keystone XL.

Trudeau noted that more oil would end up being transported by rail if more pipelines are not built. There have been a number of accidents involving oil trains during the past decade in the U.S. and Canada. The worst occurred in 2013 when a runaway train derailed and set off fires that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.


Morning news: Thick crowds of sunrise watchers pose risk at national park

The National Park Service wants to manage safety and resource protection concerns as growing crowds of people compete for space to watch the sunrise at Hawaii’s Haleakala summit.

Private or rental vehicles have exceeded available parking 98 percent of the time this year, up from 83 percent in 2014 and 94 percent last year, the Maui News reported.

Some people are parking and walking where they shouldn’t, a Haleakala National Park official said. Visitor safety is also a concern as people venture out to find a better view.

“People want to get away from the crowds, so they go off trail into endangered species habitat, which is also where many sensitive cultural resources are,” said Polly Angelakis, the park’s chief of interpretation and education. “Or they move out on to cliff faces or crumbling volcanic rocks, which are very dangerous.”

The sunrise can draw as many as 850 people in one morning, with a daily average of 600.

“These resources can be damaged both by vehicles and off-road travel by visitors,” Angelakis said.

No plan has been drafted to manage the noncommercial crowds.

Two meetings have been held to solicit public comment on ways to manage crowds, visitor enjoyment as well as the protection of natural resources.

People can submit comments by June 6 via the online Planning, Environment and Public Comment System.

Park officials plan to use the comments as they develop a potential plan.

We have hope | Letters to the future: The Paris Climate Project

Dear Earth,

We do not know how you will look in the next 50 or 100 years … but our world leaders will have a hand in determining that in Paris next month.

But we do know how you have changed. … The burning of fossil fuels has changed your landscape. It’s made your air more difficult to breathe, impacted your waters and endangered plants and wildlife. It has affected people of all ages, families and homes, cities and states. It has affected economies, whole industries.

Despite this, we have hope for you. … At Clean Wisconsin, we know the Clean Power Plan can be a win for Wisconsin, reducing health costs and slashing dangerous emissions. The plan presents a tremendous opportunity to lower electricity bills while creating good-paying jobs, developing clean sources of energy such as solar and wind power and making our homes and businesses more energy efficient.

For your future, Earth, we need to stop sending $12 billion out of Wisconsin to import dirty coal and other fossil fuels each year. Instead, we must seize the opportunity to lead the nation in innovation, job creation and health protections by developing a strong implementation plan immediately.

We want to remember 2015 as the year our world leaders — and state leaders — listened.

Editor’s note: World leaders convene in Paris soon for the critical U.N. climate talks. In fact, December of 2015 may be humanity’s last chance to address the crisis of our time.

Will the nations of the world finally pass a global treaty aimed at reducing the most dangerous impacts of global warming … or will we fail at this most crucial task?

Here and on letterstothefuture.org, find letters from authors, artists, scientists and others, written to future generations of their own families, predicting the success or failure of the Paris talks and what came after. Read these letters and write one of your own. The letters will be sent to targeted delegates and citizens convening at the Paris talks.

DNR delays decision on sale of lakefront land to Walker donor

The Department of Natural Resources’ board has put off deciding whether to sell a parcel of state-owned lakefront property to one of Gov. Scott Walker’s major donors.

The agency wants to sell 1.75 acres along the Rest Lake shoreline to Elizabeth Uihlein for $275,000. 

Uihlein and her husband, Richard, have donated nearly $3 million to Walker’s presidential super PAC, Unintimidated PAC, and Our American Revival, Walker’s now-defunct political committee. She owns a condominium complex adjacent to the property but it lacks lake access.

The Natural Resources Board voted unanimously during a meeting in Bowler this week to consider the sale as part of a larger plan to sell multiple parcels.

The DNR expects to finalize that plan and bring to the board by early next year.

ExxonMobil gets reduced settlement after toxic pollution in New Jersey

A New Jersey court on Aug. 25 approved a settlement between ExxonMobil and Gov. Chris Christie’s administration over damages due for decades of toxic soil and water contamination in the northern part of the state.

The settlement gives the oil giant a more than 98 percent discount on the state’s original price tag for restoring and replacing the resources, according to environmental advocates.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with six other environmental groups, made several efforts to block the settlement.

Margaret Brown, an attorney with the NRDC, said, “This is a multi-billion-dollar gift to ExxonMobil from Gov. Christie and his administration, at the expense of New Jersey residents. After a decade-long court battle, this spring the Christie administration abruptly and inexplicably gave the oil giant a more than 98 percent discount on the damages due for its destruction.

She added, “This is a slap on the wrist that will do nothing to repair environmental damage the state itself called ‘as obvious as it is staggering and unprecedented in New Jersey.’”

Exxon’s corporate predecessors began operating at Bayonne in 1877, and at the Bayway Refinery in Linden in 1909.

Exxon filled wetlands to develop the sites, spilled petroleum products and other hazardous substances from its refineries and chemical plants onto the land and into the water there, and used natural areas as primitive waste dumps.

In addition to heavy and pervasive contamination at the sites, the pollution migrated to the waters of the Upper New York Bay and the Arthur Kill, which separates Staten Island from mainland New Jersey.

The New Jersey state court held Exxon liable for damages to the sites.

At a trial to fix the amount of damages Exxon would have to pay, the state’s witnesses described once-healthy salt marshes smothered in contaminated fill and other wastes, unlined pits of mixed oily wastes more than 10 feet deep and extensive chemical soil contamination.

The witnesses described the Bayonne site as so saturated with oil that there is more than 15 feet of petroleum waste floating on top of the underlying groundwater in some places. In other places, petroleum has leached from the ground and hardened, creating an asphalt-like material on the surface.

In its final brief before proposing the settlement, the state described the scope of the environmental damage resulting from the discharges “as obvious as it is staggering and unprecedented in New Jersey.”

The state had originally sought $8.9 billion but the court-approved settlement is for $225 million. The judge described this as a “reasonable compromise.” About $50 million will go to remediation, $50 million to legal costs and the rest to the state’s general fund.

Walker’s science cuts may hinder efforts to halt walleye decline

Fond du Lac resident Mike Arrowood says he has begun to see fishers from up north migrating south to find walleye.

“The guys at Manitowish Waters, they come down to Lake Winnebago to fish. Why should they fish in northern Wisconsin?” said Arrowood, chairman of the nonprofit group Walleyes For Tomorrow. “You can’t catch any fish.”

Wisconsin’s walleye have been in decline for as long as scientists have been collecting solid data, about a quarter-century, and it is Gretchen Hansen’s job to unravel why.

“I can tell you I have not yet figured it out,” Hansen said in a December interview.

Now the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ ability to research and reverse that decline could be at risk. Gov. Scott Walker has proposed cutting 18.4 research science positions in the agency’s Bureau of Science Services, potentially including Hansen and several others who study the state’s most popular sport fish.

At the same time, the governor has proposed spending $2.6 million to continue stocking Wisconsin lakes with walleye over the next two years, part of the $10 million Wisconsin Walleye Initiative — a short-term boost to the population that researchers say is unlikely to solve the underlying problems with the species.

“Stocking is a Band-Aid,” said Jake Vander Zanden, a professor of limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is part of a collaboration with the DNR, the U.S. Geological Survey and others to investigate the walleye decline. “You’re putting small fish into a system where there’s a problem with the fish.”

Ultimately, “the most cost-effective way” to solve the problem is to “have healthy, self-supporting systems,” Vander Zanden said.

Arrowood called the stocking plan “a waste of money” considering “how few survive.”

George Meyer, a former DNR secretary under Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson who now heads the nonprofit Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said the cuts would cause “a very dramatic reduction in data for managing fish and wildlife in Wisconsin.” His organization, along with other hunting and fishing groups, sent a letter to legislators criticizing the plan.

Asked what effect the cuts might have on walleye research, DNR spokesman Bill Cosh said the department considers walleye and other fish and game research to be “priorities for the agency and our customers,” and said the department “will work with the positions that we have available and prioritize our work.”

Helen Sarakinos, policy and advocacy director of the nonprofit River Alliance of Wisconsin, said the DNR did not appear to be fighting the cuts. The river and watershed advocacy group stands to lose $138,400 in funding under the proposed budget.

“It makes no sense at all that we gut all the planning and research that goes into protecting and stewarding these resources,” she said. “We have to ask: Why are they doing this?”

State lawmakers on the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee may take up the DNR cuts on May 29. Three Republican members and one Democratic member of the JFC did not return inquiries.

Economic stakes are high. Sport fishing is worth about $2.75 billion in Wisconsin, according to the governor’s administration.

The governor has proposed to cut 66 positions from the DNR altogether. In addition, state law requires an agency to terminate all limited-term employees, or LTEs, before it can lay off a single permanent staffer.

A DNR organizational chart from late 2014 listed 12 LTE scientists in the fisheries and aquatic sciences section.

Walleye babies in trouble

In Green Bay, walleye are “a world class walleye fishery,” according to Titus Seilheimer, a fisheries specialist with the UW Sea Grant Institute. It supports big fish, and lots of them.

But the state’s inland lakes are another story.

Researchers have found that in many lakes, walleye are failing to regenerate their numbers — scientists call it a “recruitment failure.” Lakes that used to support natural reproduction no longer do.

The density of the youngest walleye, those under a year old, is down 6 percent a year overall in the northern lakes where most of the data are collected, according to the DNR’s Hansen.

“That is what is the most scary,” Vander Zanden said. “There’s something about the environment that is just not right for the babies to survive.”

There are also fewer walleye out there. Together, the “productive capacity” of Wisconsin’s lakes is down — like a garden that is less fertile than it used to be.

Clues emerge

There are numerous potential environmental causes, like predation, food, habitat or invasive species, Vander Zanden said.

So far, the researchers have have found some simple variables that predict walleye success, Hansen said.

That is an important step toward figuring out which lakes are likely to support walleye, which will help managers decide where to focus stocking or habitat restoration efforts.

Lake size is one top determinant; another is the overall temperature. Basically, walleye seem to do well in big lakes with cooler water. How squiggly the lake shoreline is seems to matter as well. They like darker water, but many lakes have cleared up.

The Wisconsin researchers have received recent recognition from fellow scientists for their efforts to tease out what is happening. A paper sent to the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences was deemed the “editor’s choice” in March, according to a DNR newsletter.

The editors cited “the impressive spatial and temporal scale” of the investigation and “the importance of (the) findings for management of walleye both in the U.S. and here in Canada.”

Some of the theories researchers are examining:

• All about that bass? Bass are up and walleye are down, and a popular theory among fishermen is that bass eat baby walleye. Arrowood, for one, believes it is a strong possibility.

But researchers from UW-Stevens Point pumped a bunch of bass bellies and found no walleye. And the inverse correlation could be explained in part by the fact that bass are mostly fished catch and release, while people fish walleye to eat them — or that both fish are responding to other environmental factors. Meanwhile, muskies are eating walleye in some lakes, but it is unknown how important that is.

• Climate change. There is no obvious correlation. Climate change has affected all the lakes, but walleye have declined only in some of them. Researchers nonetheless believe it may be affecting the fish, in part because walleye tend to do better in cooler water.

Vander Zanden calls the problem “very multidimensional” — meaning a dizzying array of factors could be at work, and they affect each other.

Warmer temperatures could affect water clarity, lake levels, the layers of temperature in the lake, just to name a few variables, all of which could affect walleye. And bass do better in a warmer world, so if they are directly competing with walleye, more bass would be bad news for walleye.

• Overharvesting. Since the heated arguments over tribal walleye spearing in the 1980s, walleye regulation has been overseen by the courts, which affirmed the tribes’ right to spear fish. A legal agreement intended to keep the population sustainable declares no more than 35 percent of the adults can be removed each year.

It is a cap designed to be exceeded only once every 40 years, similar to how insurance companies plan for 100-year storms. And it covers all northern Wisconsin lakes in areas ceded by the tribes, although lakes vary in how productive they are for walleye.

Vander Zanden says some research suggests the one-size-fits-all limit may be way too high for some lakes.

“It is leaving them open to overexploitation,” he said — that is, removing more adults from the population than it can regrow.

He likened it to pulling out more money from a bank account than its interest rate can maintain, and therefore decreasing the principal. That may be causing some of the decline.

“Understanding is the basis for addressing the problem,” Vander Zanden said.

Scientists are beginning to mobilize against Walker’s plan.

This story is part of Water Watch Wisconsin, a project examining water quality and supply issues. The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

Experts offer tax guidance to newlywed same-sex couples

Karie Washington and Anne Hurley promised to love, honor and cherish. And, having commingled their financial affairs long before they legally married, the Madison women also promised to file one tax return on Tax Day 2015.

“It’s kind of scary — who isn’t afraid of the IRS?” said Washington.

For newlywed same-sex couples with concerns and questions about filing their state or federal taxes, a number of organizations are offering guidance and assistance.

Lambda Legal, the legal defense and education group long at the forefront of the push for marriage equality, issued a guide, “Eight things same-sex couples need to know about taxes,” in advance of the filing deadline.

The Tax Foundation also released a guide, as did The National LGBT Bar Association, working in partnership with BNY Mellon and White and Case LLP.

“Tax season is always a trying time for many families, but for LGBT families especially,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, The LGBT Bar’s executive director. “The quickly changing legal landscape makes things even more complicated.”

Kemnitz said the association and its partners produced “The Online LGBT Tax Resource” to provide taxpayers and tax preparers the best possible state-by-state information.

The bar’s online resource — lgbtbar.org/tax — reviews state rules concerning same-sex marriage, including the impact on state income tax; contains state guidance for married same-sex taxpayers; provides information on litigation and legislation that could impact LGBT families filing taxes; and reports notices from state revenue departments.

“Because laws vary from state to state, we marshaled the knowledge and skills of our pro bono teams to deliver an outstanding resource for the LGBT community,” said Arunas Gudaitis, managing director and senior managing counsel at BNY Mellon. “As a result, the online guide offers direction to same-sex couples and their tax advisers and prepares a comprehensive view of tax laws and regulations across the country.”

For Wisconsin, where same-sex couples began marrying last June, The LGBT Bar guidance cites the case law dealing with marriage equality and confirms that married same-sex couples “file their Wisconsin individual income tax returns as married filing jointly, married filing separately or, if qualified, as head of household.” Married same-sex couples do not require a Schedule S, as was required last year. 

For federal purposes, the IRS in 2013 said married same-sex couples, regardless of where they live, file as “married” and chose “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately,” according to Lambda Legal, which has a website at lambdalegal.org.