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Same-Sex Couples Legally Married in another State or Country but Domiciled in South Carolina Can File Joint Returns for Federal Tax Purposes

In Revenue Ruling 2013-17, 2013- ___ I.R.B. ___ (Aug. 30, 2013), the Internal Revenue Service decided that same-sex married couples can file joint tax returns even if they are domiciled in a State that does not recognize same-sex marriage, like South Carolina, so long as they were lawfully married.  In addition, this Ruling states that the words “spouse,” “husband,” “wife,” and “husband and wife” are gender neutral terms for purposes of federal tax law.

 Thus, it does not matter for federal tax purposes that a couple’s marriage is not recognized in South Carolina.  See S.C. Const. Art. XVII, section 15; S.C. Code Ann. § 20-1-15 (1996).  So long as the couple was married in a State (which includes foreign jurisdictions) that lawfully permits same-sex marriage, the couple can file a joint tax return and receive the same benefits of opposite sex married couples.  Under this Ruling, South Carolina same-sex couple can also file amended tax returns within the applicable statute of limitations to receive the benefits of the Ruling.

 This Ruling is a follow up to the United States v. Windsor decision which was discussed in a post entitled: “The Impact (If Any) of Windsor and Perry on South Carolina’s Definition of Marriage.”

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