Authored by Nathaniel J. Krautkramer On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, legalizing same-sex marriages across the United States. 576 U.S. ___ (2015). What impact did this have upon the income tax status of same-sex couples in Wisconsin? Nothing actually changed here, as same-sex marriages were already legally recognized in Wisconsin for tax purposes at both the state and federal levels.
On October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Wisconsin's petition for certiorari in the Walker v. Wolf case concerning the State’s ban on same-sex marriage. Following this, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue legally recognized same-sex marriages as legal in Wisconsin. The Internal Revenue Service actually arrived at this position first, as set forth in Revenue Ruling 2013-17 which had an effective date of September 16, 2013. The ruling cited the United States Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ____ (2013), which determined that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) enacted in 1996 was unconstitutional under Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Based upon this case, the IRS ruled that gender neutral terms in the Internal Revenue Code that referred to marital status included same-sex couples that were lawfully married under state law. It also ruled that terms such as “husband” and “wife” should be interpreted to include same-sex spouses.
In Wisconsin, married same-sex couples were required to begin filing returns as either married filing jointly, married filing separate, or if applicable as head of household, starting on October 6, 2014. Returns filed before that date could be amended to reflect marital status, within the State of Wisconsin’s three year statute of limitations on filing amended returns. For federal returns, married same-sex couples were required to file the 2013 tax return and all subsequent returns as either married filing jointly or married filing separate; returns for earlier tax years could be revised, if amended returns were filed within that later of three years from the date the returns were due or two years after the tax was paid.
If you or someone you know is affected by the changes in the law described above, and have any questions about how these issues impact tax filings or estate planning, feel free to contact me or call at (715) 842- 2162 to discuss the matter further.
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