Annie Leibovitz Pays the Gay Tax

The photographer is suffering financially, partly because of her partner's death.


The fact that Annie Leibovitz has been pawning her famous photographs has a lot of people wondering why. How can this esteemed artist, creator of famous portraits of stars from John Lennon to Miley Cyrus, be forced to use her prized possessions as collateral?

Now, After Ellen is reporting part of that answer. The website says it's because she's been forced to pay the so-called "gay tax." While married couples can inherit each other's property upon death without paying taxes, gay couples cannot. So when Leibovitz's partner, Susan Sontag, died in 2004, Leibovitz had to pay hefty taxes on the property that Sontag left to her. In fact, the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered, says that there are over 1,000 federal provisions that offer benefits and protection that do not apply to same-sex couples. Here are a few:

  • Unmarried couples often cannot include each other on employer-based health plans without paying tax penalties.
    • They often lack job protection when taking time off to care for their partner.
      • They cannot give Social Security survivor benefits to their partner.