"Ask me if I'm married or not," says David Boyter, "and I'll tell you I honestly don't know."
Boyter and his sometime spouse Angela are the headline-making couple from Ellicott City, Md., who have married and divorce-vacations in the Caribbean and remarries in Maryland, they've avoided paying more than $18,000 in "marriage penalty."
The couple, who have a combined income of about $72,000, are currently appealing an August tax court verdict ordering them to pay back taxes because Maryland would not recognize their foreign divorces.
"We believe the federal court can't rule on what the state court would or wouldn't do," says David Boyter, noting the he'll take the case to the Supreme Court if he loses the appeal. "Marylanders get foreign divorces every year."
Judge Richard C. Wilbur said he deferred to state law because domestic relations are usually the province of the states. He added that the IRS has the right and the duty to determine the marital status of the taxpayer.
An IRS spokesman notes that the agency has a revenue ruling stating that it will not recognize the divorce of a couple who divorces and remarries for tax purposes -- an action they call "a sham."
But David Boyter says that the court didn't attempt to apply the IRS rule in his case. "The whole thing just left us unsure of our marital status," he says, noting that the last action they've taken was getting a divorce. They won't consider marrying again, he says, "until everything's settled down."
In response to hunderds of letters from couples "asking how we did it," he says, they've prepared a fact sheet on "Divorce for Fun and Profit," now in its fourth printing.