Taxation and DOMA

The United States Supreme Court has handed down its much-anticipated decision on the fate of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the ruling has many implications for taxpayers. The Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA in Windsor v. U.S., June 26, 2013, opening the door for the federal government to extend to same-sex married couples the same benefits available to opposite-sex married couples, including a host of tax-related benefits.

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court issued its decision, President Obama directed all federal agencies to revise their rules and regulations to reflect the ruling.  Many same-sex married couples may mistakenly think that the Court’s decision merely allows them to file their federal income tax returns as married filing jointly. Filing status is only the tip of the iceberg; the Court’s ruling impacts, among other areas: employee benefits and retirement savings, children and dependents, innocent spouse rules, estate and gift taxation, education benefits, and more.

The Supreme Court did not strike down Section 2 of DOMA, which provides that no state, territory, or possession of the U.S. is required to give effect to any law of another state, territory, or possession that recognizes same-sex marriages. This was addressed in the landmark United States Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodgesin which the Court held in a 5-4 decision that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Decided on June 26, 2015, Obergefell requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions.  This legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States, and its possessions and territories.

If you have any questions about the Supreme Court’s decision striking down DOMA and or this impact on taxpayers, please the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney at (973) 256-0456 or email

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