Married same-sex couples gain equal tax benefits
All legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether the state where they live recognizes the marriage. “This ruling provides coherent tax-filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement. “It also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”
Same-sex spouses will be able to file as married couples for the 2013 tax year and will also be able to file amended returns for tax years 2010, 2011 & 2012, meaning that many couples might be eligible for refunds. The ruling applies to all legal marriages made in the United States or foreign countries. It does not extend to civil unions, registered domestic partnerships or other legal relationships.
The federal estate tax will also offer more favorable treatment to married same-sex couples. Same-sex surviving spouses will now be entitled to inherit the estate of their late husband or wife tax-free.
In terms of health insurance, until now money used to buy same-sex spousal coverage in an employer-sponsored plan was subject to income tax. Now, as a result of Treasury’s ruling, that money will be treated as tax free for federal income tax purposes. And the participating employee can file a refund claim for the income taxes paid on those spousal coverage premiums.