Married same-sex couples can now file federal taxes as married

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Edie Windsor, who successfully sued the United States government over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), waves to revelers while riding in the New York Gay Pride Parade on June 30, 2013 in New York City. This year's parade was a particularly festive occasion, due to the recent Supreme Court Ruling that it was unconstitutional to ban gay marriage. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton

Following the Supreme Court decision striking down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Treasury Department and the IRS announced Thursday it will start recognizing legally married same-sex couples for federal tax purposes.

The ruling applies to couples legally married in any of the 13 states that recognize same-sex marriage (or in Washington, D.C.). It applies regardless of whether the couple in question lives in one of those states or elsewhere.

"Today's ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement. "It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve. This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change."

The are a number of federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, such as filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

When the Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government cannot deny benefits to legally married same-sex couples, it impacted a wide array of federal laws, including not only tax laws but Social Security benefits and family medical leave, among other things.