In Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court held that “[t]he right to marry is a fundamental inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.” This

Here’s something that should be at the top of your to do list on this Monday morning:  make sure your benefits and other employee policies are in compliance with new guidance from the IRS that becomes effective today relating to federal tax treatment of same-sex marriages under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor.  In Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which had prohibited recognition of same-sex marriages under federal law. That decision has several implications for employers, including application of employee leave laws such as the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), which we blogged about recently.

Since the Windsor ruling, federal agencies have been busy carrying out President Obama’s directive to update regulations and guidance accordingly.  On August 29, the IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 and two sets of FAQs (here and here), advising how the IRS will treat same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes. (Windsor was, after all, a tax case, in which the issue was whether the IRS was allowed to disregard a same-sex marriage for federal estate tax purposes).  The guidance becomes effective today, September 16, 2013.

Under that new guidance, the IRS will apply the marriage laws of the state or country in which the marriage was celebrated (‘state of celebration”) to determine if the couple is validly married for federal tax purposes, including tax and other issues relating to employee benefits.  Under the new IRS guidance, any same-sex marriage validly entered into in any state or foreign country that allows same-sex marriage will be recognized by the IRS for income, estate, and other tax purposes, even if the couple does not live or work in a state that recognizes the marriage.  For example, if a same-sex couple is married in Washington (or Canada), which recognizes same-sex marriage, and then moves to Oregon, which currently does not, the couple will still be considered married for federal tax purposes.

Continue Reading Employers Should Review Benefits Plans And Other Policies Affecting Employees In Same-Sex Marriages As New IRS Guidance Implementing U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor Decision Becomes Effective Today, September 16, 2013

Washington voters recently approved Referendum 71, giving registered domestic partners all of the rights and responsibilities of married couples under Washington state law.   Prior domestic partnership laws gave registered domestic partners limited rights and responsibilities such as hospital visitation, health care decision making, inheritance and community property rights.  The new law includes all of the

The memorandum issued by President Obama yesterday extends some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, including access to a government insurance program that pays for long-term conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, and to sick leave to care for a sick same-sex partner or a non-biological child.  However, the extension did not provide eligibility