Sen. Elizabeth Warren Files Bill That Could Make Married Gays Eligible For DOMA-Related Tax Refunds

Chris Johnson reports at the Washington Blade:

A new bill led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the U.S. Senate would make gay couples potentially eligible for a refund on their back taxes if they married more than three years before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

The legislation, called the Refund Equality Act, would same-sex couples married in places like Massachusetts, which had marriage equality before the Supreme Court decision in the Obergefell case, could file amended tax returns back to the date of their marriage.

β€œFor nearly a decade, legally married same-sex couples had to file their taxes as single persons, often paying more taxes than they would owe if they could file as married,” Warren said in a statement. β€œThis bill is a simple fix to allow same-sex couples to claim the tax refunds they earned but were denied because of who they love.”

Hit the link for the rest of Johnson’s report on how the refund process would work.

  • bambinoitaliano
    • kcken

      I’d like to sit down and discuss it with him.. πŸ™‚

      • bambinoitaliano

        You mean sitting on him πŸ˜›

        • kcken

          Well, prefer to top… but … as long as it’s sweaty..

          • Lumpy Gaga

            Hot Mike Pence doesn’t break a sweat.

          • Lumpy Gaga

            Don’t let the name fool you.

            Hot Mike Pence? Cool as a cucumber.

  • kcken

    Trump will call her lesbian Pocahontas in 3…2…

    • Lumpy Gaga

      “Lesbo-hontas”

      • Acronym Jim

        Great! Now I need to start looking into drag KING names before they’re all gone.

      • Acronym Jim

        “Pocahobian”

        Oh wait, that’s already the name of a gay denizen of Middle Earth.

    • m_lp_ql_m

      I always thought Pacahontas was another word for necrophilia.

      • customartist

        Pocacorpeus

  • bkmn

    Appreciated but it won’t pass and what about those people who did not have access to marriage at the time?

    • Kelly Lape

      throw out the good in search of the perfect.

      Once upon a time there was a boy named bkmn and he wanted the world to be perfect. Too bad.

      • leastyebejudged

        This was put forward exactly because it has no chance.

        So who’s gullible here ?

      • bkmn

        I welcome the good but I am also well aware that this will go nowhere in a GOP controlled world. That is simple reality.

    • lymis

      It would be impossible to implement, especially in today’s environment, but since it was declared unconstitutional to ever have banned marriage, a case could and should be made that we should be able to go back as far as we can document blending our lives as a couple – things that would indicate that we would have married if we could, like sharing finances, buying a house together, writing mutual wills, and so on – basically, all the things that used to constitute a common law marriage.

  • Adam Stevens

    This will be going into effect just as soon as the U.S. has fulfilled its final ’40 acres & a mule’ request.

  • Michael

    She so f’n rocks, hopefully she’ll run in 2020.

  • Joe in PA

    Hmmm, I’ve got about 15 years of back taxes to file.

  • RJ Tremor

    Sadly this won’t happen in the current political climate.

  • Hue-Man

    Does it apply to marriages in Canada or only in a U.S. state?

    • JWC

      Way different tax laws

      • Lumpy Gaga

        In Canada….

        you can pay your tax bill in poutine or RCMP officers.

      • Reality.Bites

        He meant marriages of Americans that went to Canada to get married

    • Hank

      Well, if it was recognized by the state that one lived in, even though they had not passed a SSM law, it should be. Edie Windsor, 77, and Thea Spyer, 75 were married in Canada in 2007, I believe, and Windsor won in the Supreme Court about her inheritance tax.

      • Reality.Bites

        Even if not. No state EVER had the legal authority to ban marriage. Neither did the federal government. Every DOMA was enacted illegally. While it’s true there was no SCOTUS ruling anyone who didn’t have an agenda knew damn well none of these laws were remotely constitutional

      • coram nobis

        Yes, though Windsor was about the Federal power to define marriage or not. Obergefell was about state power to define marriage. Both were important, but for different aspects of federalism.

        • lymis

          Since it was declared unconstituational not to recognize the marriages, yes, Canadian marriages should be eligible for back filing federal taxes – since straight marriages conducted in Canada would have been recognized.

          • coram nobis

            Yes, and since immigration, which includes immigrants’ marital status, is a Federal matter, then Windsor was on point.

    • Ernest Endevor

      We were married in Ontario before marriage equality became legal nationwide.

  • CraigNJ

    My accountant tells me that my husband and I would have paid more if we were able to file as married vs single. It’s the “marriage penalty” a lot of couples (gay and straight) are hit with. It happens when the couple’s combined income pushes them into a higher tax bracket.

    • Lumpy Gaga

      We learned a lot of hard lessons since getting hitched, but we don’t get burned so badly on the taxes because there’s an income disparity and some other particulars about our income sources such that, our tax break in particular almost (almost) covers the changes we’ve had to make, esp. in health care spending.

      The big facepalm moment is gonna be the adverse effect on my Soc. Sec. retirement benefits. Oh, wait, that’s 8 years away. SS won’t be there for people in my demographic, SS having been set to implode by the current crew in D.C.

      DOUBLE FACEPALM!!

      PARADOX! CAROUSEL!!

      • Ernest Endevor

        SS will be there. Meantime you want to read (in the worst possible way) Get What’s Yours. Following the advice I read there I’ve been able to claim spousal benefits while letting my own SS increase by 18% a year for every year I don’t take it till I’m 70.
        https://www.amazon.com/Get-Whats-Yours-Secrets-Security-ebook/dp/B00LD1OPP6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499978716&sr=1-1&keywords=get+what%27s+yours+the+secrets+to+maxing+out+your+social+security

        • Rillion

          I’ve heard that they are (or have) changed the rules to stop that trick.

          • Ernest Endevor

            Absolutely not, and it’s not a trick. If one half of a married couple is already collecting his or her SS benefit then the other half, on reaching full retirement age, can opt to claim a spousal benefit from his or her spouse instead of collecting his or her own SS. In my case this allows me to let my own SS benefit accrue till I’m 70. At that point I will switch from claiming a spousal benefit to claim my own SS. Note: spousal benefits are significantly less than a full SS benefit but in the long run my ability to delay taking my own SS will provide me with a much better financial return. This is not a trick and is part of Social Security’s structure, along with survivor and other benefits. That many couples don’t know about it is a different conversation. Also, I’m fortunate that I can afford to wait, but my spousal benefit has been just that – a benefit. Since both of us contributed to SS over the years I think it only right that with marriage equality, we are now able to claim what we have earned.

          • Rillion

            I’m not going to quibble with you over the definition of a broad slang word like trick. I am just telling you that I’ve heard from people that deal with high level SSA people that the SSA is looking at that “technique” and is likely to change the regs to eliminate the option of doing what you are doing now. So I am not going to be planning on that being available when my husband and I reach retirement age in 15 years. As for claiming what you have earned we are all entitled to claim what we have earned but the government has the ability to change what we have earned. It is unlikely that it would be illegal for them to change the regulations so that you have the option of taking spousal benefit or your own benefit but regardless of which one you take, there is no increase in benefit once you have started receiving either.

          • Ernest Endevor

            Leaving aside your pejorative tone in referring to a legal SS insurance benefit I’d just like to be clear about one aspect because who knows? I think it extremely likely that both spousal and survivor benefits will continue and it might help you both when planning your retirement. By not taking my own SS at full retirement age, 66 for my cohort, my own SS benefit grows by 18% a year till I am 70, at which point it is capped. So by not taking it now I can reap the benefit later. I register my claim with SS but freeze it and don’t take any money. Once I start to receive payments on my own claim then yes, you’re correct, the amount to which I’m entitled becomes fixed. Of course it’s possible to start claiming SS at 62, and I think more than 70% of recipients do so. But the loss in benefits paid over time is substantial. Of course, if one needs to take it then that’s what one does. I’ll also receive a spousal benefit on a union pension of my husband’s should he predecease me. In that case, he took a smaller amount so that the payments would continue to me after his death. I don’t see the difference. I think it might be true that the UK has stopped spousal benefits but not sure if that’s true. There was certainly talk about it.

          • Rillion

            Any tone you are picking up is your own addition. I fully support and approve of people making use of the strategy you are using. I even have attended seminars on how to advise my clients on maximizing their SS benefits. Part of that education includes getting information on what may change in the future.

  • Lumpy Gaga

    I can haz 5 years of refunds? Yes, please!

  • Grant

    husband and I received just under $25,000 in amended tax return refunds for the three years before Obergefell. That said, we were able to do that under an executive action by President Obama who was directing the IRS. Mango Mussolini probably already signed an order undoing that. A bill from congress would make this permanent regardless of which country’s puppet is in the White House.

    • Lumpy Gaga

      Yes. For some time now, 1040s have allowed you to amend up to the three years prior to marriage recognition. So it’s a rolling thing. You could only go back three years from the current filing year/season.

      It sounds like this would change “three years from yesterday” into “since Obergefell”.

      So, you amended 2012-2014??

      As Pennsylvania residents, we were “stealth married” for several years between making it official in 2010, and recognition in Pennsylvania, which, IIRC, was about 5 seconds before Obergefell was decided. (PA was one of the states which said they weren’t going to fight in court.)

      • coram nobis

        We did as well, filed 3 1040X returns. I doubt if the current admin could undo that, but those of us who got those 3 years probably won’t qualify for any more on those years.

        • Lumpy Gaga

          We only missed one year, because of the “three year” thing.

          Which is why I was curious abt the years Grant recently amended. I got no pride. Pride is a luxury a woman in love can’t afford.

      • Grant

        We lived in FL but got married in CT in 2010. We filed amended tax returns for 2010-13 once Obergefell came about bc the Obama-directed IRS was told to amend taxes for anyone who re-filed as married so long as the state they were married in recognized same-sex marriages at the time that the ceremony was done.

      • Evelynlarmstrong

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    • Lumpy Gaga

      Careful. Any part of that $25K that is accrued interest is… wait for it… taxable income.

  • leastyebejudged

    Reparations would be more appropriate.

    • Totally agree with you. Anyone who is same sex married should be given a tax refund dating back to the time they first filed taxes, federal, state and property. Since LGBTQ folks weren’t considered full citizens, they shouldn’t have been taxed as full citizens.

    • lymis

      We were married in 2008, in the pre-prop 8 window. That was our first opportunity to marry, and we took it. But we would have married 5 years earlier if we had been able to – and our domestic partnership certificate (a nice piece of paper that got us nothing BUT the nice piece of paper) would be an indication of that.

      It would be wonderful if we could refile for the years between our marriage and what the Obergefell ruling already let us amend (3 years).

      But since the denial of marriage was ruled unconstitutional, we should be (but never will be) able to refile all the way back to the first proof we have of ourselves as a couple. That goes back nearly a decade more.

      And I’d also like the reduced rate mortgage we couldn’t get through the VA since we weren’t married, and the money I had to pump into COBRA between jobs when I should have been on my husband’s insurance (since we were already paying family rates to cover the kids.)

      And that’s nothing on the couples who were together 40 or 50 years before the Obergefell ruling. Or the people who lost everything when a family contested a will.

      Everything helps, and everything the undoes any of the discrimination we all faced is a good thing.

  • Ragnar Lothbrok

    Nice. Oh, you have to be married ?

  • Cuberly
    • coram nobis

      I would rather see one of Donald, fully-clothed, taking bribes from Putin. That would be the clincher.

      • Todd20036

        I’d rather look at Melanoma naked than Trump’s sex tapes.

        But I would be happy if someone ELSE viewed them and prosecuted Trump for it

      • Lumpy Gaga

        He said “clincher”.

    • Todd20036

      Cool!

      And ewwww!!!

      • Cuberly

        Yep, that’s a porn series I have zero desire to watch….GACK!

    • PickyPecker
      • coram nobis

        Climbing the bladder to success.

    • Bryan

      Hopefully there’s still an antibiotic for that…

      • Lumpy Gaga

        “The annoying drip drip drip of gonorrhea”.

        Who was that? Firesign Theater? Cheech & Chong?

  • coram nobis

    IRS did change a rule and backdated some marriage filings, back 3 years, so we were able to file 3 amended 1040X returns. Trouble is, I think it was only for the statutory 3 years that cover possible audits, and for certain states with joint-filing requirements (i.e., listing as “married” for state and “single” for Federal).

    Still, it’s a nice move by Sen. Warren for those eligible. It may be esp. helpful for those couples with disparate incomes, rather than those who would have about the same taxes due if each filed separately.

    • Lumpy Gaga

      That’s what SHE said!

    • customartist

      Absolutely correct: “helpful for those couples with disparate incomes, rather than those who would have about the same taxes due if each filed separately”

      Been there – Filed that.

  • FormerMainer

    Money!

  • lymis

    We were married in California during the pre-Prop 8 window. We were able to amend three years of back taxes post Obergefell, but no further back. This would allow us to amend all the way back to 2008.

    • coram nobis

      Maybe further, if you had to file state taxes jointly as registered domestic partners under AB 205.

      • customartist

        Varying States acknowledge Common Law Marriages as well, and so long as the State recognizes those “marriages” then the Fed should as well.

  • Rillion

    Just as long as it doesn’t require us to go back and amend the returns with the correct marital status. Our federal taxes went up when we finally could file as married. The “marriage penalty” is a real thing still in the tax code.

    • BillysWilly

      Same here. I used to prepare the returns three ways: Splitting the deductions, I take all deductions, Hubby takes all the deductions, to see which would net us the largest refund. Once we began to be able to file as married, we had to start paying rather than get refunds.

  • A proposal that won’t even get out of committee much less up for a vote. Nice thought, Senator Warren, but it isn’t going to get passed until at least 2019 and not going to be signed until at least 2021, if then.

  • bdsmjack

    I’ve been living with my huz for 26 years, though we’ve only been married for one. I guess this law won’t help us, at all.

  • Hey, this is great. My husband and I used to have to create a fake “married” federal return and use it to create our married California return. Then after filing the California part we’d have to go back and each create a “single” return to file with the feds, since they didn’t honor our marriage.

    Of course Warren’s bill will have to get through a compassionate conservative Republican congress, and then get past a veto from our president who promised he was going to be the best friend to gays EVER. Ha! Reminds me of Schwarzenegger who ran for governor as the gay friendly Republican, and then proceeded to veto gay marriage not once, but twice.

    • coram nobis

      That’s right, because the California income tax return (Form 540) would be a derivative of your Federal 1040, and since the state required married couples (and registered domestic partners) to file jointly, you (and us) would have to file a joint 540, a ghost joint 1040 to match the 540, and two separate 1040s because of DOMA. It was a ridiculous system that only benefited the tax preparers.

      Then the IRS decided that now that the Feds recognized our marriages, there was a letter of instruction where we had to file three years’ worth of 1040X (amended) returns. Turned out the difference was about $5000 a year overpaid.

  • BobSF_94117

    Don’t ask for three years. Ask for ANY years, at least a decade.