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The Wagner Law Group Description 

The Wagner Law Group, A Professional Corporation, is a nationally recognized ERISA & employee benefits, estate planning, employment, labor & human resources practice. 


Established in 1996, The Wagner Law Group has 23 attorneys engaged exclusively in employee benefits, estate planning and employment law. Seven 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.



Contact Info

The Wagner Law Group


  Integrity | Excellence


Massachusetts Office 

Tel: (617) 357-5200 

Fax: (617) 357-5250 

99 Summer Street 

13th Floor

Boston, MA 02110

Florida Office 

Tel: (561) 293-3590
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Suite 125
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418


San Francisco Office

Tel: (415) 625-0002

Fax: (415) 358-8300

315 Montgomery Street

Suite 904

San Francisco, CA 94104





September 5, 2013 

 State and Federal Law Alert


IRS Confirms All Same-Sex Marriages will be Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes


IRS has issued guidance (Revenue Ruling 2013-17) confirming that same-sex couples will be considered married for federal tax purposes if they are married in a state or foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriages, regardless of where the couple resides. In addition, IRS has released Frequently Asked Questions related to this guidance for same-sex spouses and group health plan sponsors.


The guidance follows the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Windsor that declared as unconstitutional Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which previously prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. (See the Alert of 6/27/13 for further details.)


According to the Revenue Ruling, which is generally effective September 16, 2013, but has some retroactive effects, group health plan sponsors must begin to treat all individuals in same-sex marriages as married for federal tax purposes. In response, plan sponsors are advised to take the following steps:

  • Stop imputing income for the value of employer-paid health care coverage provided to an employee's same-sex spouse;
  • Allow pre-tax contributions through a cafeteria plan for an employee's share of the cost of group health coverage provided to his or her same-sex spouse;
  • Make adjustments for income tax withholding that was over-withheld from an affected employee during the current year;
  • File an amended payroll tax return to claim a refund of federal payroll taxes paid on previously imputed income and on after-tax employee contributions for all open years (the IRS intends to issue streamlined procedures for employers claiming refunds);
  • Allow reimbursements of qualifying medical expenses of an employee's same-sex spouse (and spouse's children) from Health Flexible Spending Accounts ("Health FSAs") and Health Reimbursement Accounts; and
  • Allow reimbursements of qualifying dependent care assistance expenses for an employee's disabled, same-sex spouse under a Dependent Care Assistance Plan ("DCAP").

Individuals may file amended tax returns based on this ruling for all open tax years.


The guidance does not address whether IRS's recognition of same-sex marriages is considered a change of status event under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code that would allow an employee to change his or her election mid-year to: (i) enroll a spouse in an employer-sponsored health and welfare plan or change benefit options, or (ii) increase Health FSA or DCAP contributions. IRS, however, has indicated that it will issue additional guidance on the retroactive application of the Windsor decision to employee benefit plans and arrangements.


Revenue Ruling 2013-17 is available at: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-13-17.pdf, and the IRS FAQs regarding same-sex marriages are available at: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Answers-to-Frequently-Asked-Questions-for-Same-Sex-Married-Couples.  



This Newsletter is protected by copyright. Material appearing herein may be reproduced with appropriate credit.


Pursuant to Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we hereby inform you that any advice set forth herein with respect to US federal tax issues is not intended or written by The Wagner Law Group to be used and cannot be used, by you or any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code.


This Newsletter is provided for information purposes by The Wagner Law Group to clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter, and may not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This material is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. Under the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered advertising.