Tax Rules Proposed to Implement Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...

By Laura Davison

Oct. 21 — The IRS proposed rules that say the terms “husband and wife” apply to couples in same-sex marriages recognized in any state for federal tax purposes.

The proposed regulations (REG-148998-13) implement the Supreme Court’s June decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and interpret terms such as husband, wife and spouse to be neutrally applied to include partners of either sex.

“The proposed regulations confirm that terms in the federal tax code relating to marriage should be interpreted to include same-sex spouses as well as opposite-sex spouses, ensuring that all are treated equally under the law,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a news release on the rules.

Since the 5-4 Supreme Court decision provided a right to same-sex marriage in all states, government agencies have been updating rules to reflect the change. Prior to the ruling, 13 states didn't recognize gay or lesbian marriages.

Step by Step

The proposed regulations, issued Oct. 21, apply to federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an individual retirement account, and claiming the earned income tax credit.

“Today, with new rules enshrining marriage equality in our tax laws, we’re taking another important step in a very long march,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in an e-mailed statement. “Still, there’s a long way to go in protecting the rights of LGBTQ Americans in the workplace, health care, housing, and many other areas. The fight for equality will continue.”

Comments on the proposed regulations are due Dec. 7. The rules will be published in the Oct. 23 Federal Register.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Davison in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brett Ferguson at

Text of REG-148998-13 is at

Request Pension and Benefits Daily