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Gay Married Couples Lacking IRS Guidance Risk Paying More in Taxes, Analysts Say

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
By Margaret Collins and Alison Vekshin (with assistance from Richard Rubin)

Proceed with care. That's what bankers, accountants, and wealth managers are telling same-sex couples considering financial changes because of the Supreme Court's rejection of a federal law denying them benefits.

After years of fighting for equal tax-and-benefit treatment, married couples now await guidance on how the Internal Revenue Service and federal agencies will implement the ruling. Without it, those who file for tax refunds may end up paying more, not less.

Married couples in states that do not recognize gay marriage and those who delayed filing their 2012 returns in anticipation of the court's decision in June are pressing for clarity.

Spouses computing whether to seek refunds from prior returns see the three-year statute of limitations for amendments closing as they look to IRS for details.

“We are desperately awaiting that guidance,” said Shari Levitan, chairwoman of the New England private wealth services group at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston. “The major question for clients is for returns that are still open, and even those that are beyond the statute of limitations--can they be amended?”

Without IRS guidance, couples who extended their 2012 return deadline to Oct. 15 and who live in a state that doesn't recognize their marriage will probably file their federal returns jointly and disclose they are doing so based on the court's decision, Levitan said. She serves high-net-worth clients, about 10 percent of them same-sex couples.

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