Married Filing Jointly Allowed for Same-Sex Marriages

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision invalidating a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Treasury Department and the IRS announced that, “same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.”

What does this mean for same-sex couples?

  • In order to file a federal tax return as married filing jointly or married filing separately, the same-sex couples must be legally married in a state or jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriages.
  • Same-sex couples duly married in one state who now reside in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage will be entitled to the federal benefits, including being able to file jointly under the federal tax laws.
  •  Same-sex couples who were married prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling must now file married filing jointly or married filing separately.  This could create a negative impact for those same sex couples that were better tax positions filing single.
  • Married same-sex couples are now entitled to the following benefits:

– Education benefits such as the Lifetime Learning Credit, Coverdell Education Savings accounts, and IRA withdrawals for education.
– Estate and gift tax planning tools such as the marital deduction, gift splitting, and portability.
Employee benefits such as health coverage, cafeteria plans, and retirement plans.

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.  On October 15th, 2013, the statute of limitations will run out for any 2009 returns extended to the October 15th, 2010 extension deadline.

In addition, employers may claim a refund of, or make an adjustment for, any excess social security taxes and Medicare taxes paid on same-sex spouse benefits, if the period of limitations for filing a claim for refund is still open.

If you are considering amending any prior year returns or have any questions related to these new rulings, please contact your Anders advisor.