Today, as a nation, we celebrate diversity, equality and another huge step forward for civil rights.
Tax Warrior Chronicles
On April 28, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case involving statewide bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Although not a tax case, the Court's decision, expected this summer, could nonetheless affect same-sex spouses' taxes in a number of ways.
Earlier this year, the IRS issued guidance on the application of the Supreme Court's Windsor decision, which struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). An IRS ruling issued shortly after the Court's decision required qualified retirement plans to treat a same-sex spouse as a spouse for plan purposes as of September 16, 2013. However, that ruling didn't require plans to amend their terms to follow the Windsor decision. In April 2014 the IRS clarified that plan amendments are required by December 31, 2014, if a plan defines a marriage by reference to section 3 of DOMA or in a manner otherwise inconsistent with Windsor.
On May 20, 2014, United States District Judge John E. Jones, III, ruled Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in Whitewood v. Wolf, holding that Pennsylvania’s mini-DOMA violates both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Judge Jones’ ruling directs Pennsylvania to not only recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, but also allows same-sex couples to wed within the state.