For many same-sex couples, the freedom to marry is also proving to be the freedom to face headaches that are equal to or more painful than their straight counterparts. Compounding the challenge is the rapidity of social change, particularly over the past five years. To guide clients through this still-evolving landscape, Gerber & Co., a leading Los Angeles accounting and financial advisory firm, has created a new “LGBT Services” division.
A recent Pew Research Center survey of LGBT Americans confirmed anecdotal evidence of the need for better support. In particular, the survey highlighted the importance of getting professional services to catch up with the new realities of same-sex marriage. Compared to the general public, survey participants were twice as likely (46 percent versus 23 percent) to affirm that “obtaining legal rights and benefits is a very important reason to marry.” Needless to say, same-sex marriage can deliver these benefits only when the proper legal and financial structures are first in place. Yet, the professional support structure of accountants, attorneys, and financial planners across the country often lacks the necessary specific background to manage optimal outcomes for LGBT Americans.
“The LGBT community remains largely an overlooked and under-served client base,” says Anastasia Kurteeva CPA, head of LGBT Services for Gerber & Co. “Very few firms have committed to developing the specialization necessary to adequately serve the many different needs of this group.”
“Our firm is at the forefront of this new professional discipline, with a dedicated team that is thoroughly knowledgeable regarding the legal and social needs of our clients,” Kurteeva says. “In addition to delivering our core tax, accounting, and financial advisory services, we work with outside professionals to provide a single, continuous approach to our clients’ needs. In addition, through our affiliate RVW Investing, we offer individualized wealth management services.”
Kurteeva notes that, contrary to common belief that married status lowers the spouses’ combined tax liability, for many younger couples the opposite is true. This is especially common when both parties hold jobs and are medium to high earners.
“This so-called ‘marriage penalty’ is a phenomenon that numerous heterosexual couples have been experiencing for ages,” Kurteeva says. “For the near future, the fast-changing social and cultural American environment promises to make the choices facing every same-sex couple increasingly complex. Our commitment to this community is exemplified by our dedicated website lgbtaccountants.com where we address and update many facets of the current challenges.”