Breaking: Married same-sex couples to be recognized for federal tax purposes

Today, the US Treasury Department announced that legal marriages of same-sex couples will be recognized for all federal tax purposes. This ruling applies to couples married in any state, the District of Columbia, or any foreign country that recognizes marriage equality. Same-sex couples will be considered married for all federal tax implications, including filing, exemptions, dependents, and employee benefits.

This change is prompted by the Supreme Court decision that struck down section 3 of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," which forbid the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew noted that legally married gay and lesbian couples can move freely throughout the country with certainly that their tax status will not change. Lew acknowledged that this will require some changes within the IRS and the Treasury Department, but called it a "happy challenge."

“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,” said Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

This means that couples who have been legally married in any of the 13 states, the District of Columbia, or any foreign country that recognizes marriage equality can file their 2013 federal taxes jointly. Couples also have the option to file amended returns for the past three tax years.

The ruling does not apply to relationships that are not legal marriages, meaning that domestic partnerships and civil unions will not recognized by the IRS or Treasury for tax purposes. Earlier this month, it was announced that Social Security would only recognize couples who are living in states that recognize marriage equality. 

"Today, America moves one step closer to 'liberty and justice for all,'" said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "Equal federal tax protections will not only endow legally married same-sex couples with the respect and dignity they deserve, but will also provide critical financial security for countless loving families."