IRS: All Legal Same-Sex Marriages to Be Treated as ‘Married’ for Federal Purposes

by Sterling Beard

The IRS announced today that all legally married same-sex couples will be treated as married for federal tax purposes — and they’ll even be allowed to get tax refunds from previous years as if the federal government had recognized their status all along.

The ruling will apply to all legally married couples, regardless of whether or not they reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Legal same-sex marriages generally must now use the “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” filing statuses, which affects a number of federal tax issues, including the earned income tax credit and the size of their tax brackets. Further, individuals who were in same-sex marriages in prior years may now refile previous tax returns as if the federal government had recognized their marriages before now, allowing them to receive tax refunds, subject to a certain statute of limitations (typically three years for taxes).

The ruling, Treasury says, “implements federal tax aspects” of the Supreme Court’s June decision to invalidate Section Three of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the legal union of a man and woman for all federal purposes.

Though the ruling will cover all legal same-sex marriages entered into in the states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country, it will not apply to “domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar formal relationships recognized under state law,” the Treasury Department’s statement says.

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