Thursday, August 29 – Big announcements came today from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) bringing federal tax benefits and federal Medicare benefits to married same-sex couples, including Florida.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the (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. The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Under the ruling, same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes.
“For those of us who live in states that refuse to recognize our marriages, today's news allows us to celebrate more deeply than we could following the Supreme Court striking down portions of DOMA,” commented Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida. “The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) not only denied legally married gay couples the benefits of marriage, it added insult to injury by demanding that we disavow our spouses and file our taxes as ‘single.’ Today we are no longer caught In the impossible situation of being told to lie about our families while also being forbidden to perjure ourselves.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also issued a statement today clarifying that gay spouses have equal access to skilled nursing facilities through Medicare Advantage.
As of Thursday, private companies that contract with Medicare to cover services offered in a skilled nursing facility must provide equal coverage to all legally married couples, regardless of whether the state that they live in allows gay couples to marry.
“We hope this is the beginning of the end of discrimination toward our families by every governmental institution in the country,” stated Smith.
Equality Florida also praised AutoNation.
The Fort Lauderdale-based company, with 21,000 employees at 256 franchises in 16 states, announced Thursday that beginning in January, it will insure all legally married spouses -- both same-sex and opposite sex -- regardless of the laws of the state in which they reside.
“AutoNation is leading the way as more and more companies grapple with the impact of disparate legal protections for their workforce from one state to the next." added Smith.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. www.eqfl.org
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