EQUALITY TODAY: Bethlehem Woman Sues Over Inheritance Tax

inheritance tax bethlehem gavel

A woman in Bethlehem, Pa. pulled an Edie Windsor this week when she sued state tax authorities over an inheritance tax bill she received after her partner of 15 years passed away in 2013. More from The Morning Call:

Barbara Baus and Catherine C. Burgi-Rios wed in 2011 in Connecticut, a state that permits same-sex marriage. Less than a year later, Burgi-Rios was diagnosed with leukemia and she died in September 2012 at 55 years old.


Baus is challenging the constitutionality of the nearly $11,000 inheritance tax bill she received after her wife's death, after the state Department of Revenue rejected her claim as a surviving spouse. Her suit charges that Pennsylvania's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages results in inequality, including a larger tax burden for gay and lesbian couples, that violates the state Constitution.

By assessing Baus inheritance tax that she wouldn't otherwise face, the state is violating Pennsylvania's Uniformity Clause, which requires taxes to be applied to different people in the same way, [Baus's attorney Benjamin] Jerner said. He also alleges violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the state and federal constitutions.

The judge in the Northampton County Court case has yet to issue a ruling. Stay tuned to G Philly for updates.

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