IRS Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages Impacts Associations' Employee Benefit Plans

By: Harry I. Atlas, Thora A. Johnson, Lisa A. Tavares, and Jennifer Spiegel Berman

In late August the IRS issued a ruling to recognize legal same-sex marriages—even if the couple lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage—in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. Associations should adjust their retirement and healthcare plans accordingly.

On August 29, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17, which answers many questions raised by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor this past summer. In Windsor, the Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman for federal law purposes, was unconstitutional because it denied same-sex couples equal protection under the law. IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17, the IRS's first formal response to the Windsor decision, holds that for all federal tax purposes:...