November 20, 2013
Article by Janis Cowhey McDonagh, Tax & Business Services Partner, "2013 Year-End Planning for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Taxpayers" Featured in The National Law Review
2013 has been a year of historic change for the LGBT community. The landmark Supreme Court decision in U. S. v. Windsor, decided on June 26, 2013, held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (defining marriage for federal purposes as being between a man and a woman) violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional.
For married same-sex couples living in one of the 14 states (as of this writing) or District of Columbia which recognize same-sex marriages, their marriages are now recognized for both federal and state purposes. Married same-sex couples living in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages are left with many questions.Place of Celebration
On August 29, 2013 the IRS released Revenue Ruling 2013-17 clarifying that where a couple was married (place of celebration) rather than where a couple resides (place of domicile) determines a same-sex couple's marital status for federal tax purposes. A tremendous benefit of this decision is that married same-sex couples can now travel freely across state lines and be considered married in each state for federal tax purposes. This ruling applies to same-sex marriages legally entered into in a US state, the District of Columbia, a US territory or foreign country. The ruling does not apply to civil unions, registered domestic partnerships or similar relationships that might be recognized under state law but do not necessarily guarantee the same protection as marriage.Impact on Gift and Estate Taxes
Before the Windsor decision, transfers between same-sex married couples could result in significant gift and estate taxes. Now transfers between same-sex spouses can generally be made with no tax consequences. In addition, certain estate provisions such as portability, the marital deduction and qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trusts are now available to same-sex married couples. Other commonly used estate and gift planning tools for married couples, such as gift splitting and spousal rollover IRA’s, are also now available to a same sex married couple.
If you die in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, your spouse will not automatically inherit under state spousal rights statutes. Therefore, if the couple intends to inherit from each other, a will or living trust is still needed.
Planning tip: An important part of 2013 year-end planning is to review and update wills and estate documents to make sure to take advantage of the new rules and to properly designate beneficiaries.