The IRS Issues Ruling on Same-Sex Marriages


by T. Mark Edwards and Michael A. Abbott

The Internal Revenue Service released Revenue Ruling 2013-17 (“IRS Ruling”) on Aug. 29, 2013 (available here (PDF)) in connection with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this summer regarding same-sex marriages (i.e., the Windsor case). The IRS ruling addresses the federal tax consequences resulting from the Windsor decision with respect to same-sex, legally married spouses. It’s entirely possible that employee health, welfare and retirement plans will be impacted. The ultimate impact on health and welfare plans will depend on how a sponsoring company’s health and welfare benefit programs are structured (and involve items such as the tax treatment of the coverage, COBRA benefits based on newly-recognized qualifying events, IRC Section 125 benefit administration, such as eligibility for a mid-year election change, HIPAA special enrollment rights, FMLA rights and reimbursements under a HRA).

For a sponsoring company’s 401(k) or other qualified plan, a same-sex spouse will be the default beneficiary of the participant and would be required to provide written consent to the designation of a non-spouse beneficiary (and a plan sponsoring company will want to make sure it determines if a same-sex spouse exists before paying death benefits to another beneficiary so that the benefits are not paid twice). The status of an individual as a same-sex spouse also could affect a 401(k) plan’s hardship distribution determinations. For any benefit under a 401(k) or other qualified plan that is payable in the form of a joint and survivor annuity, a same-sex spouse will have to consent to an optional form of benefit and will be entitled to the pre-retirement survivor annuity benefit.

The publications contained in this site do not constitute legal advice. Legal advice can only be given with knowledge of the client's specific facts. By putting these publications on our website we do not intend to create a lawyer-client relationship with the user. Materials may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. This information should in no way be taken as an indication of future results.

Search Tips:

You may use the wildcard symbol (*) as a root expander.  A search for "anti*" will find not only "anti", but also "anti-trust", "antique", etc.

Entering two terms together in a search field will behave as though an "OR" is being used.  For example, entering "Antique Motorcars" as a Client Name search will find results with either word in the Client Name.


AND and OR may be used in a search.  Note: they must be capitalized, e.g., "Project AND Finance." 

The + and - sign operators may be used.  The + sign indicates that the term immediately following is required, while the - sign indicates to omit results that contain that term. E.g., "+real -estate" says results must have "real" but not "estate".

To perform an exact phrase search, surround your search phrase with quotation marks.  For example, "Project Finance".

Searches are not case sensitive.

back to top