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IRS Recognizes Same-Sex Marriages for Tax Purposes

The US Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have announced that all legally-married same-sex couples will be recognized as married for tax purposes, even if the states where they live don't consider them to be married.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Starting with the current 2013 tax year, same-sex married couples will not be able to file "single" tax returns. Instead, they must file as "married filing jointly" or "married filing separately."

The couple's current place of residence is not relevant, as long as the marriage was legal at the time and place it was performed.

Thus, New Jersey couples who were legally married outside the state, including in foreign countries, are bound by the new IRS rules. The IRS rules do not apply to civil unions (which are recognized in New Jersey) or to registered domestic partnerships.

Gay couples will be able to file amended returns for previous tax years, and may be eligible for refunds. However, gay couples would not be required to file amended tax returns covering all the years they were married.

Couples who live in any of the 37 states that do not recognize gay marriage, including New Jersey, will need to continue to file individual state tax returns.

Since many state tax systems use federal tax returns in the process of computing state taxes, they may need to adjust their systems in response to the new federal procedure.

New Jersey is one of only two states in the Northeast US that do not permit same-sex marriage, even though 60% of New Jersey citizens support it. In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the state could not deny to same-sex couples the benefits afforded to married couples, and the state legislature then passed legislation allowing for civil unions.

Civil rights advocates have argued that civil unions are not enough, and demanded full marriage rights for same-sex couples in New Jersey.

Republican Governor Chris Christie supports civil unions but opposes gay marriage. He vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature in 2012 last year that would have allowed for gay marriage in New Jersey.

If you have questions about same-sex marriage or any other family law issue, contact an experienced family law attorney at the New Jersey Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC.

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