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End of DOMA Brings Tax Advantages for Same-Sex Married Couples

Published July 22, 2013

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, it not only gave same-sex married couples the pride of federal recognition of their marriages, it also provided very real legal protections, including significant tax advantages.

Lesbian and gay married couples who are legally married in New York or any of the other 11 states that recognize same-sex marriage, and the District of Columbia, now have the right to more than 1,100 federal benefits that were previously only available to heterosexual married couples.

Same-sex married couples now have the ability to file joint federal tax returns and take unlimited marital deductions on federal and state taxes. The benefits also include access to immigration laws related to the residency of a spouse, stretch rollovers for distributions from retirement plans, and Social Security benefits.

Now is an important time for same-sex married couples to review their estate plans, as they will likely need to be amended to take the legal change into account. Estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, living wills and health care proxies should also be reviewed in light of the new circumstances. Individual and estate tax returns already filed may be open to amendment.

Married same-sex couples should contact their estate planning attorney or tax professional as soon as possible to take full advantage of these benefits.

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