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EXCLUSIVE: Hong Kong tax department recognizes same-sex couples

EXCLUSIVE: Hong Kong tax department recognizes same-sex couples

Hong Kong's Inland Revenue Department was ordered to recognize same-sex couples after Scott Adams and Angus Leung won a landmark Hong Kong court case (Photo: Facebook)

Hong Kong’s Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has begun recognizing same-sex couples.

A Hong Kong tax assessor told Gay Star News individuals have been able to list a same-sex spouse when filing tax returns since mid-July.

In an email sent to Gay Star News Thursday, a Hong Kong IRD spokesperson also confirmed filing taxes had been updated to cover same-sex couples.

But, the statement said, it applies only to ‘tax returns by taxpayers who have entered into a valid same-sex marriage in accordance with the law of the place where it was entered into.’

As Hong Kong does not allow same-sex unions the new laws would apply only to same-sex couples married overseas.

The move comes after Hong Kong’s top court last month ruled in favor of a gay senior civil servant.

Angus Leung, an immigration officer who married his husband Scott Adams in New Zealand five years ago, sued the government in 2015.

It had refused to recognize his marital status and grant his husband benefits such as medical insurance and tax reductions for couples.

But, Court of Final Appeal judges ruled Hong Kong’s civil service and Inland Revenue Department must recognize the pair as a married couple.

IRD said in the statement the court had yet to hand down ‘the order on the form of relief’

But, the statement said: ‘In general, same-sex married taxpayers will be requested to submit copy of marriage certificate to substantiate their marital status.’

Hong Kong’s only openly-gay lawmaker, Ray Chan, on Thursday (25 July) to celebrate the move.

He said the tax department had opened the registration for same-sex couples registered overseas. Couples would have to provide marriage certificates at a later time, he said.

Same-sex marriage in Hong Kong

Hong Kong law does not allow same-sex couples to marry or enter a civil partnership. But, the top court also recently ruled immigration services must recognize overseas marriages.

The assessor on Wednesday (24 July) was unable to explain exactly which same-sex couples would be recognized.

But, she suggested they would need some sort of official recognition.

Local activist Billy Leung, who also spoke to an assessor, said ‘whatever changes that will come into place must include couples in a civil partnership as well.

‘In the long run, the government must stop making piecemeal change only when they get challenged in court and lose and that it must carry out a comprehensive reviews of all the laws and policies that discriminate against LGBT citizens’ he also said.