Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester joined more than 70 of their congressional colleagues July 13 to introduce House and Senate versions of the Refund Equality Act of 2017.
This legislation would ensure that legally-married same-sex couples — who until the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 Windsor decision were barred from filing federal taxes jointly — are permitted to file amended tax returns back to the date of their marriage.
“I'm a big believer in the Golden Rule, which asks that we treat others the way we would like to be treated,” Carper said. “That is why we must make this simple fix to the law to ensure all citizens, including the rights of married same-sex couples, are able to amend their tax returns and access the refunds they are owed. The Supreme Court has ruled on this issue, so we must make sure the law is updated to reflect this important change.”
“All Americans deserve fair and equal treatment under the law, and that includes the tax code,” Coons said. “The tax code currently prevents many married same-sex couples from receiving all of the tax benefits they are owed, which is unacceptable. That is why I am proud to join more than 70 of my congressional colleagues to support the Refund Equality Act of 2017 that will remedy this unequal tax treatment for married same-sex couples. This important bill takes one more step toward the goal of equal rights for same-sex couples under the law.”
“This is a small correction that will go an incredibly long way for same-sex couples,” Blunt Rochester said. “This legislation will allow same-sex couples to go back and claim what they are owed and will ensure that they are treated equally under the law. While it may be a small step, it is an incredibly necessary step toward justice for those who have been denied tax benefits solely because of who they are and who they love.”
Currently, married couples who previously filed taxes separately are permitted to file amended joint returns dating back up to three years, and the Internal Revenue Service lacks the authority to override this limitation. As a result, same-sex couples who were married in jurisdictions recognizing same-sex marriage prior to Windsor are unable to claim refunds for years they were legally married. The Refund Equality Act would permit these couples to amend their tax returns for these years, allowing them to file jointly and to secure an estimated total of $67 million in refunds to which they are entitled.