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

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

Gay GroomsThe following states recognize same sex marriages:  Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and District of Columbia.  In the most recent Supreme Court decisions that I blogged about earlier a great deal of disconnect surrounding the following sentence was brought forth and follow up I felt is both important and required.

“Legally married same sex couples are taxed in the same manner as legally married opposite sex couples.”

On one hand this sentence brought relative clarity to the treatment of estate tax matters as the decision was relevant to the treatment of a taxpayer’s ESTATE TAX.  In that there is a huge difference between estate tax and income tax I for one am not completely comfortable assuming that this sentence applies automatically to income tax statutes and regulations, particularly the definition of filing status without first understanding how specifically the IRS responds.

Because of the decision handed down by the Supreme Court in the Windsor Case there are many questions yet to be answered regarding the treatment of INCOME TAX by the IRS.  Also confusing matters is the fact that marriage of a same sex couple is separate and distinct from civil unions or other similar state provisions regarding unions. Read More