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Same-Sex Couples to Receive Recognition from I.R.S.

By Jeffrey Knipmeyer on September 4, 2013

Marriage equality advocates experienced a watershed moment back in June when the Supreme Court revoked the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, extending federal tax benefits to same-sex couples all across the nation. As joyous as the occasion was for supporters of gay rights, concerns immediately arose as to how exactly the ruling would be implemented and administered. There were also questions on how the ruling would impact same-sex couples living in states where gay marriage is not recognized. An answer has finally been provided.

According to a report by The New York Times, on August 29, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that all legally married same-sex couples, no matter where they live, will be required to file federal tax returns as married couples starting from the 2013 tax year. The new restriction is being welcomed with open arms by gay and civil rights groups.

“Committed and loving gay and lesbian married couples will now be treated equally under our nation’s federal tax laws, regardless of what state they call home,” said the leader of the Human Rights Campaign. “These families finally have access to crucial tax benefits and protections previously denied to them under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”

Although the federal rule change may lead to higher tax liabilities for many same-sex couples, it will also give them the ability to file amended returns and receive refunds.

Same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is not recognized may face complications. They will still have to file their state returns as individuals, although they can file their federal returns as a married couple. States may also implement their own rule changes in response to the federal ruling.

Other federal agencies like the Health and Human Services Department are acting in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling and extending rights and services to same-sex spouses. However, they are creating a patchwork of regulations rather than a coherent system. Further changes will need to be made before gay couples can easily access federal services.

Jeffrey Knipmeyer, an associate in the Chicago family law firm of Nottage and Ward, has had ample experience working with same-sex couples through their family law issues. He is knowledgeable of all the nuances in the laws that address same-sex couples and can help you and your partner navigate legal processes in an efficient and professional manner. Contact us today by calling (312) 332-2915.

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