Same-sex Marriage, Amended Tax Returns and Filing Status

flag-36423_1280I’ve pondered this question several times and not found a good answer .. until now (I think). 

The question regarded filing status on amended tax returns filed for 2011 or 2012 by someone in a same-sex marriage in those years. The original return used a filing status of single (because of the Defense of Marriage Act). They choose not to amend to file a joint return with their spouse. But they discover something — perhaps a missed deduction, or whatever — and they now want to amend that prior-year return.

Can they amend and keep their filing status as single, or must they use married?

I’ve twisted myself in knots over this issue in various posts on this blog. At first, I said that amended return must use a filing status of married.

Later, I speculated that one could maybe filing as single if filing status wasn’t relevant to the thing(s) being changed.

And now, I think I’ve found the answer … in the instructions to the Form 1040X (the form you file to amend a tax return):

Same-sex spouses. You may amend a return filed before September 16, 2013, to change your filing status to married filing separately or married filing jointly. But you are not required to change your filing status on a prior return, even if you amend that return for another reason. In either case, your amended return must be consistent with the filing status you choose.

So if you’re in a same-sex marriage and you’re amending a 2011 or 2012 tax return, you can file that amended return as married or keep your filing status as single.

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