September 27, 2013
Janis Cowhey, Tax & Business Services Partner, Featured in CNN Money Article "Many Same-Sex Couples Eligible for Big Tax Refunds"
By Blake Ellis
The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, defined marriage as between a man and a woman, which meant married same-sex couples had to file their taxes individually. But the Supreme Court's summer ruling overturned that law. Now these couples are not only able to file as married going forward, but they have the option of amending their tax returns for the past three years if it would benefit them.
For some couples, doing this will reduce their overall tax liability and result in big refunds, which is typically the case when there is a large disparity in incomes (for example, when one spouse doesn't work).They can also claim any tax paid on health insurance benefits extended from one spouse to another through an employer-sponsored plan.
Spouses can also claim refunds if they paid federal estate tax when a partner passed away, says Janis McDonagh, a partner at accounting firm Marcum LLP. Under DOMA, same-sex couples were required to pay a 40% tax on assets exceeding $5 million -- a tax opposite-sex couples didn't face.