DOMA - Treasury announcement on federal tax treatment of same-sex marriages 

August 29: The Treasury Department today issued a release stating that same- sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.

According to the Treasury release, this treatment 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.


According to Treasury, the IRS is issuing Rev. Rul. 2013-17 to implement the federal tax aspects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

KPMG observation

Treasury’s release makes reference to Rev. Rul. 2013-17; however, at the time of this release, the IRS had not yet posted text of Rev. Rul. 2013-17 or made text publicly available.

Married for all federal tax purposes

Treasury reported that same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes, and that the guidance will apply to all federal tax provisions when marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, standard deduction, employee benefits, IRA contributions, and earned income tax credit or child tax credit.


Any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country will be covered by the guidance. However, the guidance does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.


Legally married same-sex couples generally must file their 2013 federal income tax return using either the “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” filing status.


Individuals who were in same-sex marriages may, but are not required to, file original or amended returns choosing to be treated as married for federal tax purposes for one or more prior tax years still open under the statute of limitations.

Refund claims

Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012. Some taxpayers may have special circumstances (such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open) that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier.


Additionally, employees who purchased same-sex spouse health insurance coverage from their employers on an after-tax basis may treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income.

Future guidance

Treasury stated that future guidance will be issued to streamline procedures for employers who wish to file refund claims for payroll taxes paid on previously taxed health insurance and fringe benefits provided to same-sex spouses.


Treasury and IRS also intend to issue further guidance on cafeteria plans and on how qualified retirement plans and other tax-favored arrangements are to treat same-sex spouses for periods before the effective date of Rev. Rul. 2013-17.





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