Can Gay Couples Now Filing Married Filing Jointly

Can Gay Couples Now File Married Filing Jointly?

By Tim Frye

The world is changing rapidly every day.  It seems that civility is becoming more routine.  Minority groups are being treated much more fairly than in years past, and one minority group that is now having its rights recognized is the same sex couple.  For tax purposes in 2013, same sex couples who are legally married will be allowed to file married jointly on their federal tax return.  This decision comes from the overturning of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act of 2013. This article will describe in detail how same sex couples can now file married filing jointly on the federal level, regardless of state provisions on this matter.  

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All Legally Married Same Sex Couples Can File Married Filing Jointly on Federal Tax Return

The IRS and Treasury Department has now recognized all legally married same sex couples as such for federal tax purposes, regardless of how their home state treats them.  What this really means is that if a gay couple is legally married, regardless of the state they live in currently, they are required to file as a straight married couple would.  They cannot file individually on the federal portion of the tax return; they must file either jointly with their partner or file separately. 

Does a Same Sex Couple Benefit From Filing Jointly on Their Federal Return?

Now that same sex couples have been allowed to file jointly on their tax return, the question becomes, “How does this really help them financially.”  These couples are now in the same boat as the straight married couple.  Those couples who have two high household incomes will actually be subject to what is referred to as the “marriage penalty,” meaning that their tax liability will be higher because they are forced to combine incomes.  The benefit is that circumstance in which the same sex household has only one real breadwinner, in which they will benefit from a doubled standard deduction and lower overall tax rates. 

Can Same Sex Couples Now Amend Old Returns and File Jointly in Past years

The best attribute of this ruling on same sex marriages for the purpose of federal taxation is that they now have the ability to amend previous year’s tax returns and file jointly for those previous years.  This can create very big refunds because these people in prior tax rates were subject to single or head of household tax rates, and were given the lowest standard deduction possible.  Going back and amending these returns and claiming married filing jointly will offer a tremendous benefit financially to these couples.  They could be getting thousands upon thousands back from the ability to amend. 

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