Gay couples who marry outside the state of New York cannot file joint tax returns, according to the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.

In response to petitions filed by Lambda Legal, officials cited state tax law and said that New York same-sex married couples cannot file their taxes jointly as married couples.

Alphonso David, attorney at Lambda Legal, an organisation committed to recognition of gay rights, said: “It’s tax time, that time of year when all New Yorkers are united in fulfilling their financial responsibility to the state, but same-sex couples who married out of state and are just as married as any other married couple in New York, are forced to say that they are not married for tax purposes.

“The Department’s decision is short-sighted for a number of reasons, including the fact that some married same-sex couples would shoulder a heavier financial obligation to the state if their marital status were recognized for tax purposes.

Susan Sommer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal said: “The tax department concluded its hands were tied by a tax provision that is inconsistent with how the rest of New York law treats same-sex couples.

“This decision highlights why it is important that same-sex couples be allowed to marry right here in New York.”

John Galanti and John Hotchkiss, who were married in Canada and represented by Lambda Legal in the petition, would have had to pay more taxes if the Department had allowed same-sex couples to file jointly.

“We were willing to do our part for New York, but New York wasn’t willing to do its part for us,” said Mr Galanti.

The tax department said: “Since the petitioner’s marriage to his same-sex partner is not a marriage for federal income tax purposes, it is not a marriage for New York State personal income tax purposes.”