The Treasury Department and IRS announced Thursday that all same-sex marriages will be recognised for federal tax purposes regardless of state residence, allowing gay couples in all states to file joint tax returns.
The announcement means that even if a gay couple resides in a state that does not recognise gay marriage, they will be recognised under federal law as long as they were married in a state that does.
It comes about two months after the Supreme Court’s historic ruling overturning the Defence 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,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement.
“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.”
Same-sex couples who are legally married can now file their 2013 federal income tax returns under the “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” options.
Here’s the full announcement from the Treasury:
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 recognise their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognises same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognise same-sex marriage.
The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defence 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.”
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 recognised 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 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.
Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012. Some taxpayers may have special circumstances (such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open) that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier.
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.
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