New bill would let same-sex couples claim pre-Windsor refunds

The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved a bill last week to allow same-sex couples who married before the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court to claim their tax refunds.

H.R. 3299, the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality (PRIDE) Act of 2019, was introduced this month on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and would update the Tax Code to allow same-sex couples who married before the Supreme Court struck down DOMA in the landmark 2013 ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, to claim their tax refunds.

For years, same-sex couples in states that recognized legal marriage were denied federal refunds because DOMA did not allow them to file federal taxes jointly. That law was overturned by the Supreme Court’s decision six years ago, but the IRS lacks the authority to override limitations in the Tax Code that limit to three years the period within which a married couple can file jointly after having already filed separate returns. The bill would correct that limitation to permit the IRS to provide refunds to same-sex couples who married in states that recognized same-sex marriage before DOMA was overturned.

The bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Judy Chu, D-California, and Andy Levin, D-Michigan. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts. In addition to H.R. 3294, the Refund Equality Act, the PRIDE Act also includes language from H.R. 1244, the Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers, which would remove gendered language such as “husband” and “wife” from the Tax Code to accommodate same-sex couples. Instead, tax filings would use terms such as “spouse” and “married couple.”

“I’m so happy that Democrats and Republicans on the committee could come together to unanimously support this common sense measure to recognize that marriage is more than a husband and wife,” Chu said in a statement last Thursday. “Same-sex couples no longer need to feel excluded when filing their taxes.”

Rep. Judy Chu, a Democrat from California, speaks during the Politicon convention inside the Pasadena Convention Center.
Representative Judy Chu, a Democrat from California, speaks during the Politicon convention inside the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California, U.S., on Saturday, July 29, 2017. During the third annual Politicon pundits, politicians, comedians and entertainers gather to discuss issues that touch all sides of the political spectrum.Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

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