IRS Announces Recognition of Legally Married Same-Sex Couples

May 20, 2014

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that all legally married same-sex couples, regardless of where they live, will be recognized for federal tax purposes, including income, estate, and gift taxes.

The Supreme Court of the United States’ decision on June 26, 2013 declaring the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional raised questions with respect to federal treatment of same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, lawfully married same-sex couples were forced to declare themselves as “unmarried” when filing federal tax returns. Following the declaration of DOMA as unconstitutional, same-sex couples whose marriages were recognized by their state of residency could file jointly married federal tax returns and qualify for other federal benefits requiring marriage such as social security. It was unclear, however, how the IRS and other government agencies would treat same-sex couples living in one of the 37 states where same-sex marriages are not recognized.

Today, the IRS announced that all legal marriages would be recognized for federal tax purposes. The announcement clarifies that the place of marriage trumps the state of residency in determining whether same-sex couples are legally married for tax purposes. Same-sex couples now may legally marry in one state and freely move to another state knowing that their federal tax filing status will not change.

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