Treasury and IRS: All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes

Posted on September 12, 2013 · Posted in Latest Updates

On August 29 2013 the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS announced that the agencies have ruled that same-sex couples legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage. The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26 Supreme Court decision 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.

To read the complete announcement which includes additional information regarding filing amended returns and refund claims click here.

Commenting on the announcement CSEA Member Cynthia Leachmoore EA notes that Members should keep in mind that for 2012 tax returns same-sex married couples may choose to file the way they did in 2011 (two single returns following community property attribution law) or using the MFJ/MFS status until September 15th 2013. Returns filed for 2012 after that date must use either MFJ or MFS. See the IRS Q&A below:

Q2. Can same-sex spouses file federal tax returns using a married filing jointly or married filing separately status?

A. Yes. For tax year 2013 and going forward same-sex spouses generally must file using a married filing separately or jointly filing status. For tax year 2012 and all prior years same-sex spouses who file an original tax return on or after September 16 2013 (the effective date of Revenue Ruling 2013-17) generally must file using a married filing separately or jointly filing status. For tax year 2012 same-sex spouses who filed their tax return before September 16 2013 may choose (but are not required) to amend their federal tax returns to file using married filing separately or jointly filing status.

Click here to read all of the Q&A on the IRS’ webpage Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law.