The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the PRIDE Act of 2019, which would allow same-sex couples to file for tax returns they were denied under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Under DOMA, married same-sex couples were not eligible for the same federal tax breaks as heterosexual married couples. According to a report by the Joint Committee on Taxation, same-sex couples are owed an estimated $57 million in back tax refunds due to the discriminatory provisions in the tax code under DOMA.
In addition to allowing for same-sex married couples to potentially recover some of the extra money they were taxed under DOMA, the PRIDE Act would change the language in the U.S. tax code to make it more gender-inclusive. The Act would remove gendered language like “husband” and “wife,” in favor of terms like “spouse” and “married couple.”
Representative Andy Levin said that he was proud of the House for passing the much-needed bill. “The House today sent a message to LGBTQ married couples across America that their unions are recognized, valued and dignified by the U.S. government,” Levin said in a statement. “The PRIDE Act moves our country closer to true equality and equity for the LGBTQ community and I am proud that the House today passed this important bill.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also supported the bill and believes it is a step towards combatting discrimination. “Discrimination has no place in our society or in our laws. In passing the PRIDE Act, Democrats are honoring our diversity and providing long-overdue justice to countless same-sex couples across the country who have been denied critical tax refunds because of who they are and who they love,” the Speaker said in a statement. “By eliminating gendered language that discriminates against same-sex couples and putting money directly back into the pockets of families who have earned it, this critical legislation offers common-sense fixes that modernize our tax code and honor our bedrock values.”
In order to become law, the Act will need to be passed by the Senate and signed by the President.