The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service ruled Thursday that any same-sex couple legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage will be treated as married for federal tax purposes -- regardless of whether they reside in a jurisdiction that recognizes their marriage.
The ruling clarifies the federal tax implications of the Supreme Court's June decision invalidating portions of the Defense of Marriage Act.
"Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve," said Secretary Jacob Lew.
"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," Lew said.
The ruling applies to all federal provisions where marriage is a factor, including personal and dependency exemptions, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.
Legally married same-sex couples can file their returns jointly or separately, and their status as married applies to income and gift and estate taxes.
The ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar unions which are not marriage recognized under state law.
Same sex couples who were legally married prior to the ruling have three years from the original date of filing to claim a refund. Refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012, or in exceptional cases where an extension to the statute of limitations was granted to the taxpayer.