Married gay couples win U.S. marriage tax benefits nationwide

Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:24pm EDT
 
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By Kevin Drawbaugh and Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - All legally wed gay couples, no matter which state they live in, are entitled to the same U.S. federal tax benefits as married heterosexual couples, the Obama administration said on Thursday.

The U.S. Treasury ruling, following a landmark Supreme Court decision in June, means that whether a married gay couple lives in New York, which recognizes gay marriage, or Oklahoma, which does not, federal tax benefits and responsibilities apply.

The Supreme Court on June 26 invalidated a key portion of a 1996 federal law, known as the Defense of Marriage Act, which had defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

There was some uncertainty after the Supreme Court ruling about how the tax status of gay married couples would be treated in dozens of states that have laws against gay marriage.

"Today's ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said.

There are about 130,000 same-sex married couples in the United States, according to estimates from the Census Bureau.

Gay rights backers said the ruling could prompt same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is not legal to travel to states where it is recognized to wed.

"We will see many more couples from the more than 30 states without marriage equality come to New York," said Nathan Schaeffer, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda.   Continued...

 
Anne Austin, 28, (L) and Jen Durham, 30, kiss as they get married in West Hollywood, California, in this July 1, 2013 file photo. All legal same-sex marriages will be recognized for U.S. federal tax purposes, the Obama administration said August 29, 2013, allowing married gay couples to claim the same tax benefits as their heterosexual peers. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files