Same-Sex Marriages Now Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes

As the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor continue to unfold, the federal government has now extended access to the benefits and protections of federal tax law to married same-sex couples that were previously only available to married opposite-sex couples.


On August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that same-sex married couples will be treated as married for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether or not the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage.  This ruling formally implements the Windsor decision invalidating a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) regarding the status of same-sex marriages in federal tax filings.


The significance of this ruling is that every legally married same-sex couple can now have their marriage recognized for federal tax purposes, even if they live in a state that does not recognize their marriage, such as Virginia or Florida.  The tax provisions covered by this ruling include a couple’s filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, employee benefits, and contributing to an IRA.    In order to receive these benefits, legally married same-sex couples must file their 2013 federal income as “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.”

These benefits, however, still do not extend to registered domestic partnerships or civil unions.


Besides giving same-sex married couples equal benefits and protection under the law, this ruling is significant in that it gives same-sex couples the freedom to relocate to a state that does not recognize their marriage under state law and still be afforded the same protection and rights under federal tax laws.


Read the IRS’ ruling:  Revenue Ruling 2013-17


For more information on the ruling and to keep up to date on news, visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Center: