The U.S. Treasury and IRS announced last week that all same-sex couples legally married in areas that recognize their marriages will be treated as married for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether the couple lives in an area that does not recognize same-sex marriages.
The announcement implements a June Supreme Court ruling and invalidates a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said. “It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve. 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, which applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes. The ruling applies to filing status, personal and dependency exemptions, employee benefits, IRA contributions, earned income tax credit and child tax credit.
The ruling does not, however, apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or other formal relationships recognized under state law.
Legally married same-sex couples must generally file their 2013 federal income tax return using “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” filing status.
Individuals who were previously in same-sex marriages are also able to file original or amended returns choosing to be treated as married for tax purposes for one or more previous tax years still open under the statute of limitations, which is generally three years from the date a return is filed or two years from the date the tax is paid—whichever is later.