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Total Articles: 5

The World Post-Windsor: Rethinking Benefit And Leave Policies For Same-Sex Spouses

Following a highly-publicized U.S. Supreme Court decision and subsequent guidance from both the Labor Department (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), employers need to rethink how they treat same-sex spouses under their employee benefits plans and leave policies.

Correcting Employment Taxes for Same-Sex Spouses: Optional Procedures After Windsor

On September 23, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2013-61, which provides optional administrative procedures that employers may use to correct overpayments of employment taxes paid for 2013 and prior years with respect to same-sex spouse benefits. Notice 2013-61 comes as a result of the recent Supreme Court of the United States decision in United States v. Windsor. It also follows on the heels of Revenue Ruling 2013-17, which provided the IRS’s first guidance on the federal tax treatment of same-sex couples and spouses, including the Court ruling’s effect on employee benefit plans (as we discussed in our September 2013 blog post, “Early Guidance Sheds Light on Impact of United States v. Windsor on Employee Benefit Plans.”)

Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision Sparks Changes in Employee Benefits

On June 26, in a 5-4 decision called a "historic step forward" by President Obama, Justice Kennedy announced the Supreme Court’s long-awaited decision to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. Section 3 of DOMA defined "marriage" as a legal union between members of the opposite sex and defined "spouse" as an individual of the opposite sex for purposes of all federal laws. The Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that Section 3 of DOMA violated basic due process and equal protection as it prohibited same-sex couples who are legally married in the states in which they reside from enjoying many of the federal benefits opposite-sex married couples enjoy, including social security benefits, certain pension and welfare benefits and rights, favorable estate tax treatment and the ability to file joint tax returns.

Legal Alert: Labor Department Signs On to State-of-Celebration Rule for Same-Sex Marriages

On September 18, 2013, the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued Technical Release 2013-04 (the "Release"), adopting the treatment of same-sex marriages for purposes of ERISA (and for purposes of the Federal Employees' Retirement System) that was recently prescribed for tax purposes by the IRS. See our previous Alert dated September 3, 2013, IRS Answers Residence Question for Same-Sex Spouses, at http://www.fordharrison.com/9568.

Early Guidance Sheds Light on Impact of United States v. Windsor on Employee Benefit Plans

For many years, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defined marriage under federal law as a legal union between one man and one woman. In June 2013, however, in the case of United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court of the United States declared this DOMA provision (known as “Section 3”) to be unconstitutional. On August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued its first major guidance on how the Windsor case impacts federal tax law. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 and two associated FAQs concerning the federal tax treatment of same-sex marriages and civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. The following is a brief discussion of the implications, open issues, and recommendations for employee benefit plans in light of this guidance.