Marriage Tax-Wise

In Accounting & Finances, Taxes on February 26, 2017 by Sufen Wang

What is Marriage Tax-Wise? The IRS Issues Final Ruling

rings-26760_640What’s the definition of marriage? Ask this question of many Americans and you’ll end up opening a whole wormhole of (not very well-researched) arguments, followed by a quick spiral into derogatory terms, and if you’re especially unlucky, a soliloquy on the merits of shopping at Wal-Mart. Luckily, when it comes to federal taxes, we don’t need to look to anybody other than The IRS to find out how marriage is defined. The IRS has published final regulations on the definition of marriage tax-wise, based on the Supreme Court’s decisions in Obergefell v. Hodges, and Windsor v. United States, along with Revenue Ruling 2013-17.

heart-1348870_640In these final regulations published in the Federal Register earlier in September, the IRS confirmed that for federal tax purposes, the terms “husband,” “wife,” and “spouse” apply to same-sex marriages recognized in the state where the couple tied the knot. These terms can be neutrally applied to include partners of either sex. However, The IRS clarified that those terms, as well as “husband and wife,” do not include people who entered into a civil union, domestic partnership, etc. In other words, if the relationship is not considered marriage under the laws of the U.S. state, territory, or possession where it happened, it’s not considered a marriage when it comes to taxes.

So what happens if the happy couple decides to take the plunge while abroad? The final IRS rules clarify that if the coupled got married in a foreign jurisdiction whose laws recognize the marriage, and if the relationship is recognized as marriage in at least one U.S. state, possession, or territory, then those folks are married for federal tax purposes. And if the wedding bells toll in a domestic setting, the marriage of the two people is recognized tax-wise if the marriage is acknowledged by the U.S. state, possession or territory where the couple married. This is regardless of where they end up settling down.

gay-love-equal-loveAnd although the IRS didn’t mention the following in their regulations, it goes without saying that these are true across any marriage:


  • “Marriage is the bond between a person who never remembers anniversaries and another who never forgets them.”
  • “Marriage lets you annoy one special person for the rest of your life.”
  • “Behind every successful wife, stands a surprised mother in law.”
  • “Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right and the other is the husband.”
Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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