Federal Agencies Issue Rulings Regarding Treatment of Same-Sex Marriages

Over the course of the past month two regulatory rulings have been issued which provide greater clarity regarding the federal treatment of legally married same-sex couples in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this summer. First, on August 29th the IRS ruled that all couples who are legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages will be considered married for federal tax purposes, even if they reside in a jurisdiction that doesn’t recognize their marriage. Same-sex married couples residing in states, like North Carolina, that don’t recognize same-sex marriage will have to file as Married for federal income tax purposes but use the Single filing status for their state returns. That procedural headache mirrors the situation that legally married same-sex couples who were residents of jurisdictions that recognized their marriages found themselves in prior to the decision, in that they were required to file as Single on their federal return but Married on their state returns. If you have questions about your filing status please contact us for assistance. The link below will take you to a more in-depth discussion of the IRS ruling.

http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/News/20138636.htm

Then, on September 18th, the Department of Labor issued guidance extending to legally married same-sex couples the same rights enjoyed by married heterosexual couples under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, regardless of their state of residence. That means a same-sex spouse is automatically entitled to benefits under an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan in the same manner that a heterosexual spouse is. The link below will take you to more information about the guidance issued.

http://www.benefitspro.com/2013/09/18/same-sex-spouses-covered-by-erisa-regardless-of-re