Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage & Tax

From the New York Times:

Today the question isn’t whether Thea and Edie could marry — as they finally did in 2007 — but how that marriage should be treated for tax purposes. It is a question that a phalanx of civil rights attorneys is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to answer in a case that they hope will alter federal law, specifically the much-debated Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

When Thea died in 2009, Edie was presented with a gargantuan tax bill — more than $360,000, a figure derived primarily from the vast increase in value of the two homes — an apartment in Manhattan and a small weekend place in the Hamptons — that they’d purchased long ago. In a heterosexual marriage, a surviving spouse can usually shield up to $5 million worth of assets from the estate tax (the limit was $3.5 million when Thea died). But that deduction is not given to married gay couples because DOMA defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman.”

Edie has already won the first round in her fight. A federal court in New York ruled last month that DOMA’s Section 3 — the portion that defines marriage — is unconstitutional and that she should be refunded the estate tax she paid.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn

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Technically legally, DOMA is still the law of the land. If DOMA precludes same-sex married couples from recieving the tax benefits of heterosexual married couples, then the law must be followed.

Posted by: Divorce Forms | Jul 23, 2012 7:16:06 AM

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