DOMA Update: IRS Adopts a “State of Celebration” Rule for Same-Sex Marriages

September 06, 2013

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Internal Revenue Service has issued guidance saying it will recognize a same-sex marriage as valid for federal tax purposes regardless of the married couple’s place of residence as long as the marriage was initially established in a state or foreign jurisdiction that allows such marriages.  As noted in our updated CHRO Guide on DOMA, the guidance also provides for a limited retroactive application of the Supreme Court ruling regarding employee benefit plans (i.e., only for purposes of filing of original returns, amended returns, and adjusted returns for any overpayment of tax, provided the applicable limitations period for such filings has not expired).  Importantly, the IRS guidance states that for federal tax purposes, the term “marriage” does not include registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or other similar formal relationships recognized under state law that are not denominated as a marriage by the state regardless of whether individuals are of the opposite sex or the same sex.  The latest ruling may, or may not, have an impact on administering state tax law, depending on whether the state utilizes the IRS definitions or its own.