Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA

Today’s United States Supreme Court rulings striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and reinstating same-sex marriage in California have significant immediate effects on legally married same-sex couples.  There are over 1,000 federal statutes providing rights, privileges and obligations for married couples which are now applicable to same-sex couples.  Chief among these are married couples may file joint tax returns and can make unlimited lifetime transfers through gifts or bequests to their spouses free of federal estate and gift taxes.

Among the many items and issues same-sex filers should consider are potential tax refunds which may be available by filing amended joint tax returns for open tax years, generally the last three years. These refunds may result from lower joint income tax brackets, spousal health insurance benefits, child care credits, and dependent child credits, amongst others. Furthermore, any estate and gift taxes paid with respect to transfers to spouses are also refundable to the extent the statute of limitations is still open.

You should contact your tax and legal advisors to review both prior-year tax filings and to update your estate planning.

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