Legal Same-Sex Marriage Recognized for All Federal Tax Purposes

September 3, 2013

Same-sex married couples will be recognized as legally married for all federal tax purposes, regardless of where they live, so long as they were married in a jurisdiction that recognizes such marriages as legal, the Treasure Department and Internal Revenue Service said in a joint statement issued on August 29, 2013. “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,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J Lew said.

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 credit or child tax credit.

The ruling applies to any same-sex marriage legally entered into in any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, or a foreign country, Treasury said. However, the ruling DOES NOT apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar 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 prior to the Supreme Court decision, may, but are not required to, file original or amended returns to be treated as married for federal tax purposes for years still open under the statute of limitations.

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.