The Wagner Law Group
Wagner Law Group, A Professional Corporation, is a nationally
recognized ERISA & employee benefits, estate planning,
employment, labor & human resources practice.
in 1996, The Wagner Law Group has 25 attorneys engaged
exclusively in employee benefits, estate planning and
employment law. Six of our attorneys are AV rated by
Martindale-Hubbell as having very high to preeminent legal abilities
and ethical standards. The firm is among the largest ERISA boutiques
in the country. Our practice is national in scope, with clients in
more than 40 states and several foreign countries.
Wagner Law Group
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
East Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33602
Francisco, CA 94104
100 South 4th Street, Suite 550
St. Louis, MO 63102
September 15, 2016
Health and Welfare Law
IRS Issues Final
Regulations Redefining Spouse for Federal Tax Purposes
has released final regulations that redefine the term
"spouse" for federal tax purposes. The regulations,
which implement the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in United
States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, took effect
on September 2, 2016.
Background. The Court's decision in Windsor
invalidated the prohibition in the federal Defense of Marriage Act
that had barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex
marriages. However, in Windsor the Court did not clarify
whether all states must permit same-sex marriages or if they only had
to recognize those performed in other states.
Obergefell, the Court ruled
that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires every
state to allow same-sex couples to marry. Accordingly, Obergefell
requires all states not only to permit same-sex marriages but also to
recognize same-sex marriages validly entered into in other
Obergefell established full equality between same-sex and
opposite-sex spouses under both federal and state law. Notably,
Obergefell eliminated any differences between state and
federal taxation of welfare benefits provided to same-sex spouses and
same-sex spouses. Before Obergefell, the value of the
coverage or benefits provided to a same-sex spouse who was not
recognized as a spouse by a state was generally treated as income to
the employee for state tax purposes and taxed at single taxpayer
rates. After Obergefell, this coverage must be treated
in the same manner as opposite-sex spousal coverage and the employee
will usually be taxed at married taxpayer rates.
following are highlights from the regulations:
- The terms
"spouse," "husband" and "wife"
mean an individual lawfully married to another individual, and
the term "husband and wife" mean two individuals
lawfully married to one another.
federal tax laws, the terms "husband" and
"wife" will be treated as gender-neutral.
- The validity
of a marriage is tested by looking at the state, possession, or
territory of the United States where the marriage was entered
into, regardless of the domicile of the individuals involved.
- If a
marriage is entered into in a foreign country, it will be
recognized as a marriage for federal tax purposes if the
marriage would be recognized as valid by at least one state,
possession, or territory of the United States, regardless of
with a civil union, registered domestic partnership, or similar
status other than marriage under state law will not be treated
as being married.
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