IRS Announced that All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized for Tax Purposes

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
On August 29th, the the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published Revenue Ruling 2013-17 which addressed the issue of treatment of same-sex spouses under the Internal Revenue Code.  In publishing the Ruling, the IRS affirmed that the terms "spouse," "husband," and "wife" include an individual who is lawfully married under state law where the marriage is between individuals of the same sex.  The IRS will recognize the marriage of same-sex individuals if the marriage was entered into in a state where the laws authorize such a marriage regardless of whether the state where the couple is domiciled recognizes the validity of same-sex marriages.

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26 Supreme Court decision in  Windsor invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Under the ruling, same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

Any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory or a foreign country will be covered by the ruling. However, the ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.

Legally-married same-sex couples generally must file their 2013 federal income tax return using either the married filing jointly or married filing separately filing status.

Individuals who were in same-sex marriages may, but are not required to, file original or amended returns choosing to be treated as married for federal tax purposes for one or more prior tax years still open under the statute of limitations.
Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Some taxpayers may have special circumstances, such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open, that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier.

Additionally, employees who purchased same-sex spouse health insurance coverage from their employers on an after-tax basis may treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income.

Further information can be found at .
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