Effective Monday September 16, 2013 all Same Sex Married (SSM) couples can file their Federal tax return as either Married Filing Separate or Married Filing Joint. Filing as single is no longer an option.
The change was announced in an 8/29/13 IRS Press Release:
- All Same-Sex Married (SSM) couples must file as married even if they are living in a state that does not recognize their marriage
- Couples can evaluate returns filed in 2010, 2011, and 2012 to see if amending their return results in an overpayment and money back to you
- Amending returns is an option and is not required
From a tax standpoint, SSM couples have incurred a lot of financial change since the DOMA ruling.
The 2012 Federal Tax filing season is almost over and SSM couples were granted the right to file their Federal return as married on 8/29/13. How will this change affect you? Is there “money in the IRS Treasury bank” or do you need to put money in the bank to pay tax obligations that you just incurred?
To help you get started evaluating how all this change could affect you, create a chart similar to the following for each of the tax years that could be amended to see if filing an amended return for Married Filing Joint (MFJ) saves you money as a couple.
Specific rules are available for each year on the IRS website. It is important to pay attention to credits, deductions, and related phase out amounts. For example, for 2012
- The $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on student loans begins to phase out for married taxpayers filing a joint return at $125,000 and phases out completely at $155,000
The following chart shows TP#1 using the Standard Deduction and TP#2 using the Itemized Deduction. Hypothetical dollar amounts are not included because they would not be relevant to you.
Prior to DOMA
|Taxpayer #1||Taxpayer #2||MFJ Amended after 9-16-13|
|Adjusted Gross Income|
To see what the 2013 tax year looks like for Married Filing Joint:
- List your combined income and Federal Tax withheld or paid to date
- Determine if you are going to use the Standard or Itemized Deduction
- Use the IRS Withholding Calculator to check your withholding amount
- File a new W-4 to adjust your holding if needed
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 includes the following rules for 2013:
- A new tax rate of 39.6% for individuals over $400,000 and $450,000 for Married Filing Joint
- The Personal Exemption is $3900; this is phased out beginning with incomes of $250,000 and $300,000 for Married Fling Joint
- Itemized Deductions are limited for Individuals over $250,000 and $300,000 for Married Fling Joint
- The Alternative Minimum Tax Exemption is $51,900 ($80,000 for Married Fling Joint).
In closing, I understand that this is a lot of information to absorb, research, and evaluate to determine your financial situation. Do-It –Yourselfers could be ready to go while others prefer to get help and spend their free time doing something enjoyable. Understandable. For now, just know that the IRS ruling could have a major impact upon your finances. Don’t be caught short by an unexpected surprise.
Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. May your investment produce a positive return for both your time and for your money.