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Some Federal Departments Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

Regardless of where same-sex couples now live, if they were legally married in a state or country that recognizes gay marriage, then the IRS will also recognize these marriages, announced the Treasury Department on Thursday, August 26. When the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, all manner of federal benefits became available to same-sex couples—in theory. It has often been unclear how all of these benefits would actually be put into practice, but now the Treasury Department has brought clarity to some issues. Same-sex spouses can no longer file tax returns as single people, starting in the 2013 tax year. Their options have now expanded to either choose to be "married filing jointly" or "married filing separately".

Now, this opens up the opportunity for same-sex couples to receiving the same tax benefits previously afforded only to heterosexual couples. Of course, now this means that same-sex spouses will also face the same tax liabilities as well. This so-called "marriage penalty" comes from combining a couple's incomes instead of their respective incomes being taxed separately. It is important to note that this announcement does not apply to domestic partnerships, civil unions, etc., only marriage.

The Health and Human Services Department also announced that Medicare would also provide some benefits previously denied to same-sex spouses. Of course, confusion is still an aspect of these new policies. For example, while the place of celebration is all that matters to the IRS and for Medicare, the Social Security Administration will only look at the place of residence to determine a gay couple's eligibility for spousal benefits. Also, the Treasury Department's announcement only applies to federal taxes. This means that gay couples who qualify to file for federal taxes as a married couple may not be able to do so with their state taxes.

To learn more about these major announcements, you can check out the New York Times article on the matter. To find answers regarding your specific situation, contact the Meyers Law Group, P.C. today. A Long Island lawyer from our firm will be well-versed in even the most recent legislation.