On September 12th, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a ruling which barred the Montgomery County Orphan’s Court Clerk, D. Bruce Hanes, from issuing any more same-sex marriage licenses. As an example of the near constant local and national machinations of the same-sex marriage and the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, a few days after the Commonwealth entered the injunction, the IRS issued a statement that legally married same-sex couples may use the “married” federal tax filing status. The IRS will look to the validity of the marriage based on where the marriage took place, rather than the current residence of the couple. In other words, if the couple were legally married in a state, they will be allowed to file as a married couple even if they live in a state like Pennsylvania which does not recognize that marriage.
It is a telling statement by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew that “[same-sex] couples…can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.” This is essentially applying the IRS’s applying full faith and credit to same-sex marriage.
Income taxes are only a sliver of the overall picture of how Windsor has impacted the federal government. Worth noting is that in a state like Pennsylvania, same-sex couples will have to file under a different designation for their state return. This will likely require the filing of “dummy” Federal returns which can be attached to the State filing, but that are not filed with the IRS. Taxes are already complicated and it is imperative that same-sex couples in Pennsylvania consult with an accountant if they plan to file Federal taxes as a married couple.