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 Treasury Announces Proposed Regulations Implementing the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision for Federal Tax Purposes


Regulations Would Clarify and Strengthen Previous Guidance

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today announced proposed regulations providing that a marriage of two individuals, whether of the same sex or the opposite sex, will be recognized for federal tax purposes if that marriage is recognized by any state, possession, or territory of the United States.  The proposed regulations would also interpret the terms “husband” and “wife” to include same-sex spouses as well as opposite-sex spouses.  These regulations implement the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

“The proposed regulations confirm that terms in the federal tax code relating to marriage should be interpreted to include same-sex spouses as well as opposite-sex spouses, ensuring that all are treated equally under the law,” said Secretary Lew. “These regulations provide additional clarity on how the federal government will treat same-sex couples for tax purposes in light of the Supreme Court’s historic decision on same-sex marriage.” 

Today’s announcement would clarify and strengthen guidance provided in a 2013 IRS revenue ruling implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor.  That revenue ruling said that same-sex couples legally married in jurisdictions that authorize same-sex marriage will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.   The proposed regulations update these rules to reflect that same-sex couples can now marry in all states and that all states will recognize these marriages. 

The proposed regulations will apply to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including 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.

The proposed regulations would not treat registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar relationships not denominated as marriage under state law as marriage for federal tax purposes.  This rule protects individuals who have specifically chosen to enter into a state law registered domestic partnership, civil union, or similar relationship rather than a marriage, because they can retain their status as single for federal tax purposes.

Since publication of the 2013 revenue ruling, legally married couples generally must file their federal income tax return using either the “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” filing status.


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