New Bill Would Expand Federal Tax Refund Claims for Select Same-Sex Couples

For years, same-sex couples in states that recognized legal marriage were denied federal refunds because the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) did not allow them to file federal taxes jointly. That law was overturned by the Supreme Court’s decision six years ago, but the IRS lacks the authority to override limitations in the Tax Code that limit to three years the period within which a married couple can file jointly after having already filed separate returns.

The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality (PRIDE) Act of 2019, which was introduced on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, to allow same-sex couples who married before DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court to claim their tax refunds.  The bill would correct the limitation to permit the IRS to provide refunds to same-sex couples who married in states that recognized same-sex marriage before DOMA was overturned.

The PRIDE Act also includes language which would remove gendered language such as “husband” and “wife” from the Tax Code to accommodate same-sex couples. Instead, tax filings would use terms such as “spouse” and “married couple.”