The US Treasury announced at the end of August, 2013, that same sex married couples will have their marriages recognized by the Treasury and IRS, even if they live in a state that does not recognize their marriage.
Prior to a ruling by the US Supreme Court in June 2013, the IRS did not allow same sex couples to file as spouses and gain the federal tax benefits of being married.
The initial case was brought after two women were married in a state in which same sex marriage was legal. Eventually, one of the spouses died. The IRS did not recognize their marriage, and charged the surviving spouse a large inheritance tax. The Supreme Court ruled that unconstitutional, and essentially shot down the Defense of Marriage Act as being discriminatory against a minority. The Supreme Court did not discuss what would happen in states that did not recognize gay marriage.
The announcement by the Treasury puts the federal part of that question to rest, in that the Treasury and IRS will recognize gay marriage, that was performed in a legal ceremony, no matter where the couple currently lives.
What does this mean? Nothing, if you are not married to a same-sex partner. If you are, it is great news, because no matter where you live
- you can file your federal taxes as a married couple
- you will not have to pay federal inheritance tax if your spouse dies
- you hopefully will be treated as a spouse (i.e., next-of-kin) for hospital visitation
Hopefully, it won’t take long for all the state tax boards to catch up to the federal tax codes.