The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday that they would treat legal same-sex marriages the same as heterosexual marriages for federal taxation purposes, effective for the 2013 tax year.
The policy is a response to a June Supreme Court ruling that overturned a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It allows legally married same-sex couples to file tax returns as married couples regardless of whether they live in jurisdictions that recognize gay marriage.
The policy will apply only to legally married couples and not to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or other similar arrangements recognized by some states. Same-sex couples married before the DOMA ruling will have the option of filing amended returns for one or more prior tax years.
Legally married same-sex couples will be required to file their federal returns together as "married filing jointly" or individually as "married filing separately" and will not be allowed to file as if they were single. For federal tax purposes, the couple's state of residence does not matter as long as the marriage is legal. A same-sex couple who gets married in Vermont but lives in Virginia must file their federal returns as a married couple.