Behind The Mic With Joe Mathieu: Same Sex Marriage Benefits Confusion
BOSTON (CBS) - Make no mistake. The reason why opponents of the Defense of Marriage Act brought their case to the U.S. Supreme Court was for more than principal.
It was – at least on a legal basis – about money. And, more specifically, benefits.
Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court found the provision within DOMA to be unconstitutional because they say it denies married same-sex couples the same benefits that straight couples receive.
And indeed this ruling aims to level the playing field in states that have legalized same-sex marriage, which of course includes Massachusetts.
And we’re talking about a lot of federal benefits – more than a thousand of them, including the ability for gay spouses to file joint federal tax returns.
Experts say that could result in pretty big savings in cases where one person is the primary money-maker in a household. Different story when both spouses make similar amounts – they could actually end-up paying more.
Same-sex couples will also be able to save money on shared health benefits and get the same federal tax treatment and Social Security benefits as hetero couples if a spouse passes away.
But there is concern about the possible confusion this could create for gay couples living in states that have not legalized marriage.
Seven states recognize civil unions or other legal partnerships not defined as “marriage” and those couples already get state benefits. But some legal experts believe the SCOTUS did not make clear whether those unions are legal on a federal level.
That’s important because the IRS looks at where a couple lives, not where they were married.
And the IRS has not said much about this – which does not come as a surprise to a lot of people, knowing the agency is struggling to keep-up with changes to the tax code.
You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeMathieuWBZ