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IRS provides guidance for same sex married couples

In response to the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, the IRS has issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 with guidance for same-sex married couples and registered domestic partners.

The IRS has ruled that same sex couples who are legally married in foreign or domestic jurisdictions shall be considered married for federal income tax purposes, even if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize such unions. This ruling follows a previous ruling in Revenue Ruling 58-66 that couples who had a common law marriage and moved to a state that didn’t recognize such marriages are still considered married for federal income tax purposes.

The rule also applies for the eligibility for employee benefits under the federal tax laws, such as the exclusion for employer-provided employee medical insurance covering a spouse.

“Husband” and “wife” will be interpreted to include a same sex spouse.

Registered domestic partners, civil unions or other similar formal relationships recognized under state laws that are not denominated as a marriage under that state’s law are not considered to be marriages under the federal tax laws. (Some states recognize these relationships as marriages. Consult with legal counsel for the applicable state.)

The ruling is effective September 16, 2013, but taxpayers have the option to apply it sooner, including filing amended income tax returns for years for which the statute of limitations hasn’t expired.

Tax and financial advice from the Silicon Valley expert.