On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution requires all states to license marriages between two people of the same sex and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. This comes approximately two years after the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) enacted by Congress and signed by then President Bill Clinton. DOMA defined marriage as “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

This has wide-ranging implications for married individuals who reside in states that until now have not recognized same-sex marriage and for those who can now marry in their state, including employer-provided employee and spousal benefits, retirement issues, Social Security benefits, and of course tax issues. Read More

The United States Supreme Court has heard arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case which basically seeks to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States.  While the court has not yet announced its verdict, there is concern that, if it is legalized, the action could threaten the tax-exempt status of churches and other religious organizations.  Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has stated that this issue “may well be the greatest threat to religious liberty of our lifetime.

During discussions before the Court, three religious liberty issues were raised.  First, Justice Scalia asked counsel arguing for same-sex marriage if clergy would be required to perform same-sex marriages. The response was that a constitutional right for such unions would not require clergy of any faith to perform these ceremonies. Read More

Tax Code Changes Create Challenges

What should partners who married under California’s Equal Marriage Law be concerned about or plan for in terms of taxes?

Same sex marriage is now recognized in California. This means, from a tax perspective, same sex married couples face the same issues as opposite sex couples. They are also eligible to take advantage of what we call the “biggest tax loophole of all time” – the double step-up in basis on community property.

This is a section of the tax code that stipulates when property is held as community property and one spouse dies, the appreciation on the property is not taxed to the Read More

After the US Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor in 2013, tax filing for most same-sex married couples got easier because they were then allowed to file as married at the federal level.  However, that might not have been the case at the state level if the state did not recognize same-sex marriage.  But, states are changing and a few states, including Virginia and Wisconsin now require all married couples to file as married filing joint or married filing separately.

So, how you filed your state return for 2013 might not be the same for 2014.  Same-sex couples should check to see if state law has changed to allow for (require) filing as married. Read More

The United States Supreme Court’s June 2013 ruling in Windsor held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. The Internal Revenue Service soon thereafter, issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 holding that a couple married in any jurisdiction allowed to confer marriage status would be considered married even if they live in a state that does not view them as married (that is, it would interpret marriage using a state of celebration approach rather than a state of domicile approach). That makes sense in that otherwise, the federal government would continue to treat some marriages as unequal to others.

So, how do same-sex married couples file their state tax return if they live in a state that doesn’t treat them as married? It depends. Read More

TaxConnections Picture - U.S.Treasury

WASHINGTON — The United States Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled on Aug 29, 2013 that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Source: IRS.gov

However, each state will not necessary follow these federal guidelines. For example, the Georgia Department of Revenue issued guidance, Informational Bulletin IT-2013-10-25, Read More