IRS Extends Equal Tax Treatment to Same Sex Couples

Following on the heels of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the IRS and Department of Treasury has extended equal treatment with respect to federal taxes to legally married same-sex couples, regardless of place of residence. Thus, couples who legally married out of state and live in Texas will now be treated as married for the purpose of federal taxes. This decision includes the ability to file federal tax returns jointly and the ability to transfer unlimited assets between spouses free from gift and estate taxes. Those individuals who paid federal income tax on the value of the health coverage provided to a same-sex spouse may now be able to obtain a tax refund.

Prior to the decision, the IRS treated same-sex spouses as married only if they resided in a state with marriage equality.

On the same day as the announcement by the IRS, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended equal coverage to elderly beneficiaries in same-sex couples who reside in a nursing home. According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, this announcement is the first of many to come to “maximize federal recognition of same-sex spouses in HHS programs.”

You can find the press release from the IRS here. Answers to frequently asked questions regarding the decision by the IRS can be found here. For a more complete discussion of the June United States Supreme Court decision, click here.

Questions? Feel free to contact me.

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