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IRS Addresses Same-Sex Marriages Post-Windsor

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philip_miles_smallFederal agencies are starting to stake out their positions following the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor. The Court struck down the part of DOMA that defined marriages as only those between one man and one woman for over 1,000 federal statutes.

The IRS recently issued Rev. Rul. 2013-17, which addresses same-sex marriages for purposes of federal taxes. Cutting straight to the holdings:
1. For Federal tax purposes, the terms “spouse,” “husband and wife,” “husband,” and “wife” include an individual married to a person of the same sex if the individuals are lawfully married under state law, and the term “marriage” includes such a marriage between individuals of the same sex.

2. For Federal tax purposes, the Service adopts a general rule recognizing a marriage of same-sex individuals that was validly entered into in a state whose laws authorize the marriage of two individuals of the same sex even if the married couple is domiciled in a state that does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages.

3. For Federal tax purposes, the terms “spouse,” “husband and wife,” “husband,” and “wife” do not include individuals (whether of the opposite sex or the same sex) who have entered into a registered domestic partnership, civil union, or other similar formal relationship recognized under state law that is not denominated as a marriage under the laws of that state, and the term “marriage” does not include such formal relationships.

Now, if you’re wondering what this will mean for employers, my friend Mike Chittenden emailed me about some IRS Q&A on benefits plans (and other issues arising from the new ruling). Specifically, check out Q&A 16-19. For example, qualified retirement plans must recognize legal same-sex marriages based on where the couple married, regardless of where they live (but domestic partnerships and civil unions do not count).

This article was originally printed on Lawffice Space on September 3, 2013.  Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Philip K. Miles III, Esq. is the creator of Lawffice Space.  He is an attorney with McQuaide Blasko, a full-service law firm headquartered in State College, Pennsylvania.  He belongs to the Labor and Employment, and Civil Litigation Practice groups.  Lawffice Space is an independent law blog focusing on labor and employment law.


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