WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today 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.Every married couple in the U.S. filing in 2013 will have the option of filing as married, with the new rules applying for all federal tax purposes, including income, estate and gift taxes. Beyond that, couples who were married as of 2010 have the opportunity to file amended returns for 2010-2012 and apply for any refunds that would be available. Additionally, spouses and employers who provided health insurance or other benefits for same-sex spouses can now treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income, just like opposite-sex married couples have always been able to do.
The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”
You'll remember that the successful challenge to DOMA was brought to the Supreme Court by Edie Windsor because she was barred from claiming the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses when her wife, Thea Spyer, died and left Windsor her entire estate. Today, Edie Windsor achieves another big victory.