In Revenue Ruling 2013-17, released today, the IRS stated that it will recognize all legal same-sex marriages for all federal tax purposes under the Internal Revenue Code, even if the same-sex couple is currently residing in a state that does not recognize their same-sex marriage. The IRS based its ruling on its long-standing position from Revenue Ruling 58-66, under which a common-law marriage validly entered into under the laws of one state continues to be recognized for federal tax purposes even if the couple moves to a state that does not recognize the common-law marriage.
Importantly, Revenue Ruling 2013-17 explicitly states that a civil union, domestic partnership, or other formal relationship established under state law is not recognized as a "marriage" for federal tax purposes, whether it is a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship.
This ruling affects a wide range of benefit plans, including qualified retirement benefit plans, group health plans, health care flexible spending accounts, and dependent care flexible spending accounts. We'll have a more detailed Alert out shortly.
The Revenue Ruling generally applies prospectively effective September 16, 2013. However, same-sex spouses can apply the Ruling retroactively to file amended income tax returns for open tax years (currently, calendar years 2010 through 2012) to use the married filing jointly status, and to request refunds of FICA taxes paid in open tax years (also calendar years 2010 through 2012) on the value of group health care benefits provided to a same-sex spouse.