On Oct. 21, the IRS announced that it will recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. That could impact same-sex couples living in Georgia and the 12 other states that had not yet legalized marriage equality when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned same-sex marriage bans in June 2015.
The U.S. Treasury said it will now “interpret the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ to include same-sex spouses.” Before the Supreme Court ruling, the government only accepted tax returns from married same-sex couples living in the jurisdictions that legalized the unions. The new regulations will apply to any federal tax provisions that involve marriage, including filing status, standard deductions, and personal and dependency exemptions. One of the biggest changes will be for same-sex couples who are both on one spouse’s employer-provided health insurance plan. This insurance was previously taxed as income to the non-employee spouse, but it will now be tax-free like it is for opposite-sex spouses.
The case at the heart of the Supreme Court ruling involved an Ohio man who married his dying longtime partner in Maryland in order to be listed as his surviving spouse. However, Ohio, which did not allow same-sex marriages, refused to recognize him as a widower. In the landmark high court opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that same-sex marriage bans “inflict substantial and continuing harm on same-sex couples.”
Despite the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, same-sex couples in Georgia can still face a number of unique legal hurdles. An attorney could provide essential guidance when dealing with adoption, property division, child custody, domestic partnership, separation and other complex family law issues.