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IRS Releases New Guidelines In Light Of Windsor

The IRS recently expanded the definition of terms such as “spouse” and “married” to conform with United States v. Windsor. In the summer of 2013, the United States Supreme Court struck down some key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, clearing the way for the recognition of same-sex marriages in the several states. The IRS subsequently issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 as its way of implementing Windsor. The revenue ruling specifically defines a “married” couple as a couple that is lawfully married in any state, irrespective of gender. The IRS further stated that: 

  • The Supreme Court explicitly pointed out that denial of benefits to same-sex couples constituted a violation of the Equal Protection clause.
  • The IRS wished to remain as consistent as possible with Supreme Court guidelines to avoid future constitutional problems.
  • The text of the Tax Code explicitly permits a gender-neutral interpretation of various terms.
  • The IRS considers such an action to be fair and reasonable. 

What RR 2013-17 means to military families

Suppose a same-sex couple is married in a state that recognizes such unions and then relocates to Virginia because of a military deployment. Are the spouses still eligible for government benefits? 

Under prior law, the question was debatable. On the one hand, Virginia only recognizes marriages between one man and one woman, arguably rendering the marriage void in Virginia. On the other hand, Virginia is obliged to extend full faith and credit to another state’s action. 

RR 20113-17 removes the guesswork. Family law attorneys in Newport have clear direction from the IRS, and other federal agencies are following suit. For a free consultation with attorneys who have specific experience in military divorce matters, contact our office.

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