US recognises same sex marriage under tax laws

US recognises same sex marriage under tax laws

The US Department of Treasury has recognised gay marriage under the tax laws, giving equal tax benefits to legally married same-sex couples like their heterosexual counterparts.

The ruling by the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognises same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognise same-sex marriage, the Treasury said yesterday.

"Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide.

It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve," said the Treasury Secretary Jacob J Lew.

"This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change," he added.

Under the ruling, same sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes.

The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

However, the ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar formal relationships recognised under state law.

The ruling came in response to a US Supreme Court decision on June 26 that struck down the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to married gay and lesbian couples by strictly defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Thirteen of the 50 US states have legalised same-sex marriage while about 30 states have decreed that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman.

The District of Columbia, or Washington, the US capital, also authorises it.

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