More Good News for Same-Sex Couples From the IRS 

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Aug. 29 2013 5:57 PM

More Good News for Same-Sex Couples From the IRS 

I do!
I do!

Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/GettyImages

As J. Bryan Lowder reported earlier, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced today that same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes wherever the married couple resides.

In the official statement Treasury Secretary Jack Lew noted, “This ruling … assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.” As Matthew Yglesias recently wrote, a willingness to relocate is essential in times of high unemployment, and married gay men and lesbians shouldn’t suffer a loss of rights if they need to move to a state without marriage equality. It’s also good news for the 13 states that, along with the District of Columbia, perform same-sex marriages: Any same-sex couples who want to tie the knot but live in a marriage-denying state would be well-advised to give up on waiting for their state to see sense and spend their wedding dollars in a more welcoming jurisdiction.

Elsewhere in Slate, Yglesias points out another benefit of the ruling:

Advertisement

The IRS says that it will let couples go back as far as 2010 and amend their tax filings if they were married according to state law but the IRS didn't recognize that marriage due to DOMA. The key point is that you can do this but you don't have to do it. So in practice only "marriage bonus" couples are going to refile and get refunds. Nobody's going to pay extra. So in the short-term, you'll get a one-off increase in the deficit while in the long-run you get a lower deficit due to structurally higher tax revenue. It's a textbook fiscal stimulus plan, albeit on a very small scale.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section.