DOMA: Changes Confirmed on Taxes and in Nursing Homes

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Aug. 29 2013 3:15 PM

DOMA Aftershocks Felt on Tax Bills and in Nursing Homes

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Shyla Smith and Courtney Burdeshaw hold hands while waiting to get married at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on DOMA on June 27, 2013 in New York City.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Big news on the post-DOMA front today:

To start, in a win for elderly and aging gay couples across the country, the Department of Health and Human Services announced today that, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s invalidation of Section 3 of DOMA in June, “all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.” In the memo, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, goes on to explain that, before this decision, “a beneficiary in a same-sex marriage enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan did not have equal access to such coverage and, as a result, could have faced time away from his or her spouse or higher costs because of the way that marriage was defined for this purpose.”

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Thanks to this new guidance, same-sex couples no longer need fear the horror of being separated in old age because of bureaucratic restrictions. And, as ThinkProgress explains, the decision will apply to all legally married couples, even if they no longer live in a marriage equality state.

And as if this change weren’t heartening enough, the U.S. Treasury just announced the expected but still exciting ruling that all legal same-sex marriages will now be recognized for federal tax purposes. From the release:

Under the ruling, same sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

So, good times all around for the gay-marrieds. As the ripples of the DOMA decision spread, we can undoubtedly expect more of the same. 

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.

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