The Treasury Department has announced Thursday that, starting September 16th, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will recognize same-sex marriages, allowing them to file joint federal tax returns. This includes couples that have moved to states that do not permit same-sex marriages, though, depending on state laws, they may have to file their state tax returns as if they were not married.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the new rules, implemented following the Supreme Court’s ruling in June, demolishing the portion of DOMA that prohibited federal laws from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples, will provide “clear, coherent tax-filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide.” The high court ruling came in a case filed by Edith Windsor, who was forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes after the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. The Supreme Court held DOMA to be unconstitutional, a direct rebuke of the law instituted under President Bill Clinton.
These new Treasury-Internal Revenue Service guidelines will apply to all federal taxes, including income, gift and estate taxes, and affect personal and dependent exemptions and deductions, employee benefits, IRA contributions and tax credits. For some couples, the biggest financial benefit will be the tax exclusion for employer-paid health insurance, which many same-sex spouses previously bought on an after-tax basis. That could be worth more than $1,000 per couple. Not all couples will benefit, however, as some may pay higher income taxes as a result of the “marriage penalty.”
The Leto Law Firm has fought on the side of same-sex couples in many cases. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, The Leto Law Firm attempted to invalidate the discriminatory Florida law which does not allow same sex couples to file claims for loss of support and services of their partners. Unfortunately, the rigid and discriminatory laws of Florida prevented that claim from proceeding.
However, more recently, The Leto Law Firm filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a gay man and his husband. That case involves a man that suffered serious and disabling neurological injuries following a botched hip replacement. The injured man is legally married to a man under the laws of Massachusetts. Under Florida law, spouses are entitled to claims for losses of the support and services of an injured spouse. However, Florida presently discriminates against gay married couples, even if they are legally married in another state. We intend to fight to protect this couple so they can enjoy the same rights as any other married couple.