All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Fed Taxes

Treasury, IRS interpretation of DOMA decision ensures protections for all legal spouses

Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced a ruling that will ensure all legally-married same-sex couples, regardless of where they live, will be recognized for federal tax purposes. The decision comes two months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, allowing the federal government to recognize gay and lesbian married couples. 


Under this new ruling from the Treasury Department and the IRS, same-sex couples who are legally married will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income, estate and gift taxes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple resides in a state or jurisdiction that recognizes their marriage. 


Prior to today’s ruling, lawfully married same-sex couples were forced to declare themselves “single” to file their federal income tax returns. Furthermore, transfers of property, gifts and inheritances between same-sex spouses were taxed, unlike those between opposite-sex spouses – as was the case in Edie Windsor’s successful challenge to DOMA before the Supreme Court. Even the health insurance benefits provided for a same-sex spouse were treated as taxable income, costing the average same-sex couple over $1,000 a year in additional taxes.


“With today’s ruling, committed and loving gay and lesbian married couples will now be treated equally under our nation’s federal tax laws, regardless of what state they call home,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “These families finally have access to crucial tax benefits and protections previously denied to them under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”


Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, added, “The fact that this new respect applies only to married couples – not those joined by domestic partnerships or civil unions – highlights the need for an America where everyone can marry the person they love in any state, and have that marriage respected at all levels of government.”

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