Even more gay couples will now be able to enjoy the once strictly heterosexual joy of filing joint tax returns. The Treasury Department announced on Thursday that it will recognize legal marriages of gay couples, even if they're living in states that do not. When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, but did not say state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, it created several confusing legal questions. In the months since the ruling, the Obama administration has been resolving those questions, and in a way that's favorable to gay couples.
One question was what would happen to married gay troops in the military, which often forces troops to move, making it impossible for them to "vote with their feet" and only live in states that allow gay marriage. Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that not only would it recognize troops' legal gay marriages, but it would give those living in states that ban gay marriage several days of leave to get married in states that allow it.
A second question was: what would happen to gay couples who moved to states banning gay marriage? The Treasury Department answered that on Thursday: they'll be able to keep their federal benefits, no matter where they are. Treasury said in a statement:
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said affected couples could file for refunds for the years 2010, 2011, and 2012.