Tax Law Blog: IRS Statement on DOMA and Tax Tips for Newlyweds

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On June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. A full explanation of the article is available on a prior post. Experts in the tax realm have mixed views whether taxpayers can (or should) amend prior year returns, and how the IRS will revise the some 200 provisions that relate to marital status. The IRS quietly issued a statement on June 27. Quite, likely because it was of little value to any taxpayers. The statement is available from the IRS Newsroom, and essentially states they are reviewing the recent decision, and will "move swiftly to provide revised guidance in the near future."

In what may or may not be a coincidence, the IRS Summer Tax Tip released today relates to Tax Tips for Newlyweds. The tips apply to recently married (or soon to be married) couples, as well as those same-sex couples who are already married, but who may now be recognized as married under federal law. The most relevant tips in light of the DOMA decision are:

  • The combined income of a married couple may raise the couple into a higher tax bracket. Now is a good time to review the amount of federal income tax withheld. You may want to complete a new Form W-4 to adjust the amount of withholding for the remainder of the year to avoid sending a large check to Uncle Sam next year at tax time.
  • It is possible the couple may save taxes by itemizing deductions when previously it was not worth it for each to itemize individually. If so, make sure you are correctly documenting all of those itemized deductions.
  • December 31 is the important date for the IRS. Your marital status on December 31 determines how you file your taxes for the year. If you are married, you still have the option of filing separate, but a married couple will want to figure the taxes both ways to see which is most beneficial. (A prior post discussed holiday weddings as a form of tax planning, if you are looking for further information.)

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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