Treasury Department Rules on Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

The U.S. Department of Treasury has just made it official: legally married same-sex couples will receive the same tax benefits as opposite-sex married couples, regardless of where they reside.

In a call earlier today, U.S. Treasury Department Secretary Jacob Lew told leadership of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and other LGBT interest groups that effective immediately the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”
This is a major victory for the entire equality movement, but especially for married same-sex couples who own and operate businesses. LGBT people who are legally married in one of the 13 states that grant same-sex marriage, can now ensure their business is a “family” business and are legally entitled to determine the legacy of their wealth.
The NGLCC will continue to work with LGBT small business owners to ensure they are equipped with all the pertinent knowledge and resources throughout this transition. The organization will also advise dozens of our more than 140 corporate partners who will be augmenting grossing-up best practices as a result of this announcement.
Other key takeaways:
  •     Joint filing beginning 2014 for couples married in 2013.
  •     Retro-active filing for those married in the past three years.
  •     Same tax treatment for items like income, gifts, and estate.
Secretary Lew acknowledged there would be further refinements needed and that both his department and the IRS are looking to the public to help identify these needed refinements; for instance, child tax credit issues surrounding same-sex parents where it is not legal at the state level for a same-sex second parent to adopt.

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