Federal Tax Code to Recognize Married Same-Sex Couples

Last month, we blogged about the Supreme Court ruling to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and its tax credit implications for same-sex married couples. This monumental decision prompted the IRS to revisit our nation’s tax law, which has typically relied on state of residence rather than state of celebration of marriage for the purpose of filing jointly – proving challenging for same-sex couples that married in one state but reside in another state in which their marriage is not legally recognized. Immediately following the Supreme Court ruling, the administration announced that it was working closely with the Department of Treasury and Department of Justice to revise these guidelines.

On Thursday, a decision was announced: as long as they were wed in a state that legally recognizes their marriage, all married same-sex couples will be allowed—rather, required—to file their federal taxes jointly for tax year 2013 and beyond, regardless of their current state of residence. The administration also ruled that same-sex couples may amend some past tax returns to reflect their marriage.

As with all married couples, these pairs will still retain the option to file taxes under the status of married filing separately if it makes more financial sense to do so. However, they can no longer file as single or head of household.

As we noted in our earlier blog, some tax payers who claim tax credits such as the EITC and CTC will pay less in taxes or receive a greater refund from this ruling, while others may see their taxes rise.