Two Straight Men Tie the Knot to Avoid Paying Inheritance Tax

By Meredith Jenkins

Last December, Matt Murphy, 83, and Michael O’Sullivan, 58, walked down the aisle arm-in-arm at Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital Registry Office in Dublin. This was no ordinary same-sex wedding because both men are heterosexual. They got married to avoid paying an inheritance tax.

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As reported in The Irish Times, “I’ve known Matty for 30 years. We became very friendly after my second relationship broke up,” O’Sullivan said. “I have been bringing Matt out in my car to various parties and all that kind of thing. He became friends with all my friends, they all loved him.”

The two have both encountered a fair share of hardship. O’Sullivan, a father of three, was homeless before Murphy offered him a place to stay. Murphy suffers from giant cell arteritis, a blood vessel disease which affects the optic nerve, and O’Sullivan is, effectively, his caretaker.

Unable to pay O’Sullivan for helping to care for him, Murphy offered to leave O’Sullivan his home in his will so that after Murphy’s death, O’Sullivan would always have a place to live. However, O’Sullivan knew that claiming the home as his own would result in a large tax bill—so large that he would be forced to sell the house to pay it.

One day, according to O’Sullivan, Murphy was explaining this financial pickle to a friend “down the country in Cashel, County Tipperary, and she jokingly said we should get married. Then one night he turned around and said it to me, and I said I would marry him.” By getting married, the two friends legally prevented O’Sullivan from paying €50,000 ($59,312 USD) in taxes on the home that Murphy is leaving to him, thus ensuring that O’Sullivan will have a place to live upon his friend’s passing.

The couple said their ‘I Do’s’ in a former hospital on Dublin’s Grand Canal Street in Ireland. O’Sullivan was previously married to a woman, but this is Murphy’s first marriage.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Ireland since being endorsed in a national referendum in 2015. O’Sullivan praised Ireland’s LGBT community for how hard they fought for equality. “The equality gay and lesbian people did for this country, that they fought hard for, they were discriminated against for most of their lives, they got equality for themselves but also for everybody else.”

The two friends couldn’t get over how news of their plans spread around the world. “It’s crazy,” O’Sullivan said. “I read an article about it online in Malaysia.” Meanwhile, Murphy described O’Sullivan as the brother he always wanted, “I would have loved to have had a brother or sister. He’s always so concerned about me. He’s my best friend.”

After their wedding ceremony, O’Sullivan kept gushing over his new spouse. “I love Matt and he loves me… as friends.”

Meredith Jenkins