What You Need to Know: Federal Tax Benefits & Same-Sex Marriages

On August 29, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that same-sex couples, who have been legally married in the United States or a foreign territory, will be recognized as married for federal tax purposes.

The guidelines, referred to as Revenue Ruling 2013-17, will take effect on September 16, 2013 but tax refunds can be claimed retroactively for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012. The ruling correlates with the Supreme Court decision that overturned the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act. In June, the Act declared that legally married same-sex couples will be provided with the same federal tax, health and Social Security and other benefits that opposite-sex couples are entitled to.

The tax refunds will be available nationally and will not be affected by individual state laws regarding same-sex marriage. The two individuals must be legally married under state law to participate in the tax refunds but do not have to reside in a state that recognizes such marriage. This is big news for gay-rights advocates because the announcement affects all tax-paying same-sex couples, not just specific areas or populations.

Married couples can now file returns as “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately”. The IRS guidelines do not include registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or other formal relationships.

An income taxes refund claim can be filed with the Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040x.  Refunds for gifts of estate taxes can be claimed using, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement, Form 843.

For more information, visit the IRS website.

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