IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

IRS will recognize same-sex marriages, even if states do not

Associated Press

I imagine if you're a far-right culture warrior, today is one of those days you probably wish you hadn't gotten out of bed.

The Obama administration's Department of Health and Human Services, for example, announced it will now extend key Medicare benefits to same-sex married couples. Soon after, the Justice Department cleared the way for Colorado's and Washington's marijuana laws to be implemented.

Also today, the White House announced new gun policies on background checks and the re-importation of U.S. military weapons; a California court endorsed a ban on so-called "conversion therapy"; and in case social conservatives weren't quite miserable enough, the IRS will now recognize same-sex marriages, even in states where marriage equality is impermissible.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today 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.

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

"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 Jacob J. 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."

The new policy applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

This is no small development. Under the old policy, if a same-sex couple in Vermont gets married, then moves to Florida, they would no longer be treated as married under tax law. Now, no matter where a same-sex married couple lives, that family can take comfort in knowing they'll be treated equally under federal tax law.