News & Events Listings

On Friday, June 26, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court held inObergefell v. Hodges that the 14th amendment requires all states to license a marriage between two persons of the same sex and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed out of state. This ruling will provide both same-sex and opposite-sex married couples with the same state and federal rights and privileges across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

Before the decision, same-sex married couples were able to file joint tax returns at the federal level as a result of the 2013 US Supreme Court case, US v. Windsor. The 37 states that already recognized same-sex marriage generally require same-sex married couples to use the same filing status on their state returns as on their federal return. However, most states that did not recognize same-sex marriage required couples to file individually or as head of household. Some states even required same-sex married couples that filed jointly at the federal level to prepare pro forma individual returns for their federal taxes, creating an additional burden for those couples.

It is expected that states will soon issue tax guidance on how same-sex couples can file joint returns and whether couples who were already married can file amended returns for 2014.

It is expected that all couples will now have the opportunity to:

Make unlimited gifts to one other without having to worry about gift tax implications;

Leave property to one another without the survivor needing to pay estate taxes;
  • Leave an IRA to the surviving spouse as a "rollover" IRA, which is treated much more favorably for tax purposes than an "inherited" IRA;
  • Qualify as a surviving spouse for purposes of determining Social Security benefits'
  • Rights to visit each other in the hospital, or act as guardian or conservator for an incompetent spouse;
  • Rights to file joint state income tax returns, thus saving money in many cases;
  • Rights to inherit property under a state's intestacy statute, or to act as executor or personal representative of a deceased spouse's estate; and importantly,
  • Enable same-sex couples to end a marriage that did not work out. Most states allow anyone to obtain a marriage license-regardless of where a couple is living. However, a couple generally cannot file for divorce in the court of any state in which they do not live.