IRS officially recognizes same sex marriages

On August 29, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17. Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor, the IRS concludes:

“…individuals of the same sex will be considered to be lawfully married under the Code as long as they were married in a state whose laws authorize the marriage of two individuals of the same sex, even if they are domiciled in a state that does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages. For over half a century, for Federal income tax purposes, the Service has recognized marriages based on the laws of the state in which they were entered into, without regard to subsequent changes in domicile.”

As noted above, the IRS went farther than required in the Windsor decision by recognizing for federal tax purposes, legal marriages of same-sex couples who are not residing in states that recognize the legality of their union. However, relationships that are not “marriages” will not get the favorable treatment. The IRS concludes:

“For Federal tax purposes, the term “marriage” does not include registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or other similar formal relationships recognized under state law that are not denominated as a marriage under that state’s law, and the terms “spouse,” “husband and wife,” “husband,” and “wife” do not include individuals who have entered into such a formal relationship. This conclusion applies regardless of whether individuals who have entered into such relationships are of the opposite sex or the same sex.”

This article provides additional information on this subject.


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