DOMA Affects Income Tax Returns

By Eric Rothenberg –

With the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26th, 2013, that the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional, there will be major tax implications to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (“LGBT”) community.

So a couple that previously were forced to file as “SINGLE” when they were legally married under a state that sanctions such marriage, can now file as “JOINT” filing status. They can also go back to 2009 or earlier and file amended returns. If such amended return would result in a refund, then that means they can amend the two single returns and now file a joint return and get a refund from the IRS. However, there is a three year statute of limitations on claiming a refund. The three year period starts when the return was last due so if you did not file an extension of time to file the return, then you can file a refund within three years of April 15th. So at this point in time (being June, 2013) it is now too late to amend the 2009 which was due April 15th, 2010 because it is now more than 3 years since that date. But, if you filed for an extension in 2009, then you have until October 15, 2013 to amend the 2009 return and get a refund. And even if you filed only one of the couple’s single returns on extension until October and the other did not, the one that extended can file an amended return to joint and get a refund based upon the separately file returns. Also, if the statute of limitations was extended for any reason [such as is the case during an audit or a lawsuit pending in any federal court or even a written agreement to extend the statute between the IRS and the taxpayer], then those returns can also still be amended and a refund granted.

There are also wide implications for both estate planning in the future and also for those that have died and were not granted a marital deduction for the “spouse” that was previously not recognized. Again, an amended estate tax or gift tax return [Form 706 and Form 709] can be prepared so long as the estate is still open for any reason.