August 16, 2013
Nanette Lee Miller, Leader of the LGBT Practice Group, Quoted in Bloomberg Article "Gay Married Couples Lacking IRS Guidance Risk Paying More"
By Margaret Collins & Alison Vekshin
Proceed with care. That's what bankers, accountants and wealth managers are telling same-sex couples considering financial changes because of the Supreme Court's rejection of a federal law denying them benefits.
After years of fighting for equal tax-and-benefit treatment, married couples now await guidance on how the Internal Revenue Service and federal agencies will implement the ruling. Without it, those who file for tax refunds may end up paying more, not less.
Married couples in states that don't recognize gay marriage and those who delayed filing their 2012 returns in anticipation of the court's decision in June are pressing for clarity. Spouses computing whether to seek refunds from prior returns see the three-year statute of limitations for amendments closing as they look to the IRS for details.
Amending returns may subject some same-sex couples to higher taxes because of the so-called marriage penalty, which generally affects taxpayers when one or both are in the top income-tax bracket, or if both make relatively similar salaries. It also could open tax returns to scrutiny.
"You have to make sure there's nothing else in your return that would cause the IRS to look at it," said Nanette Lee Miller, co-head of New York-based accounting firm Marcum LLP's practice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples.
While the IRS generally hasn't looked at all returns within the three-year statute of limitations when people amend for a particular year, they could, Miller said.
"That's why a lot of people are waiting for guidance," she said.