Treating same-sex couples as married for all Federal tax purposes: IRS issues more guidance on the application of the Windsor decision to qualified pension plans

On April 4, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2014-19, providing guidance to tax-qualified pension and savings plans with respect to the application of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013) and IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17, which was issued following the Windsor decision. 

In Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited recognizing same-sex spouses for purposes of Federal Tax law. 

IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17 generally provides that, effective September 16, 2013, the IRS will treat same-sex couples as married for all Federal tax purposes if the couple was lawfully married under state law, even if the couple lives (domiciled) in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages.

The new Notice provides that qualified plans’ operations must comply with the Windsor decision as of June 26, 2013, the date the decision was issued.  Further, Notice 2014-19 sets forth the deadline to adopt plan amendments to bring a plan into compliance with the Windsor decision and IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17.  For calendar year plans, amendments must be adopted on or before December 31, 2014.  Generally, for non-calendar year multiemployer plans, amendments must be adopted by the later of the last day of the 10th month of the plan year following the plan year that includes June 26, 2013, or December 31, 2014.  

Whether a plan must adopt an amendment depends on the terms of the specific plan.  If the plan’s terms are not inconsistent with the Windsor decision and IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17, an amendment is generally not required.  However, if a plan’s terms are inconsistent with the Windsor decision and IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17, then an amendment would be required.

For more information about the specific impact of the Windsor decision and subsequent IRS guidance on your Plan, please contact your Trust Fund counsel.

By Ezekiel Carder | May 19, 2014

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