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