Individual Insights: States Begin to Issue Tax Guidance for Same-Sex Married Couples in Wake of Obergefell


As a result of the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage is now legal everywhere in the United States. Prior to the decision, 14 states did not recognize same-sex marriage, but recently many of those states have issued guidance on how same-sex married couples should file their individual income tax returns.

Same-sex married couples could already file jointly at the federal level as a result of I.R.S. Revenue Ruling 2013-17, issued in the wake of the United States v. Windsor decision. However, many states that did not recognize same-sex marriage required same-sex married couples to file individual returns at the state level. This created a burden for same-sex married couples, since it forced many couples to fill out an extra schedule or pro forma federal returns to properly file their state taxes.

So, since the Obergefell decision on June 26, what have states done so far?

Most states have now issued an official statement, indicating that not only can same-sex married couples file jointly at the state level, but they can file amended returns. This includes Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota and Ohio.

Nebraska has not only issued one ruling, but two. Kentucky not only recognizes joint filing for same-sex married couples, but also explicitly extends inheritance tax benefits by noting that the survivor of a married same-sex couple will be recognized as a Class A beneficiary.

According to The Wichita Eagle, same-sex married couples in Kansas can file jointly and can amend their 2014 returns, but no official guidance has been issued by the Department of Revenue to date.

Missouri did not recognize same-sex marriage prior to the Obergefell decision, but did recognize the right of same-sex married couples to file their taxes jointly. Executive Order 13-14 required same-sex married couples to file their state returns using the same filing status as on their federal returns. Since Obergefell, the executive order has already been rescinded because it is “no longer necessary.”

Alabama has also gotten into the act. Alabama was one of three states where same-sex marriage was already legal but hadn’t issued guidance prior to the Obergefell decision. The other two states, Arizona and Oklahoma, still have not issued guidance.

Two states that didn’t recognize same-sex marriage (Texas and South Dakota) do not have individual income tax, so no guidance is necessary. We are still waiting on guidance from Arkansas and Mississippi.

Continue the discussion on LinkedIn: What tax advice do you have for same-sex married couples in your state?