Tax Implications of Friday’s Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

Image courtesy of user Nemo on
Image courtesy of user Nemo on

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-gender marriage was legal in all 50 states.

From a tax standpoint, this should — theoretically — make tax filings much easier for anyone in a same-gender marriage. Marriage is now marriage, and all married couples will file all tax returns as married.

But as tax blogger Kay Bell at the blog points out:

Although today’s ruling is momentous, there will be some wedding delays in states where same-sex marriage was banned.

Technically, the Supreme Court’s decision only applies to the four states where the cases before the court originated, Adam Romero, senior counsel at UCLA’s Williams Institute, told NPR. That’s Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan.

Further court action is necessary for the Supreme Court ruling to apply to the other states with bans, but most same-sex marriage advocates expect the judicial system to move relatively quickly.

This ruling should not have an impact on federal tax returns because couples in same-gender marriages have been able to file as married on their federal tax returns since 2013. This ruling affects state tax returns in states that had bans against same-gender marriage.

Couples affected by this should review prior-year state filings, as they may be able to file amended tax returns.

I would recommend waiting a bit to file those amendments, though, to see 1) what kind of guidance is released by state revenue agencies in the affected states, and 2) what happens in the 9 states where further court action might be necessary.