The U.S. Supreme Court decisions that strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and basically permit gay marriage in California offer financial benefits for same-sex couples.
Here is a list of seven changes from Joshua T. Hatfield Charles and Stuart Armstrong, both board members of PridePlanners, a professional association for financial planners that focuses on the gay and lesbian communities. Charles is also LGBT spokesperson for the CFP Board of Standards.
He cautioned same-sex couples should review their investment strategy with their financial advisor and tax professionals. Some changes for same-sex couples that will be brought on by the decisions include:
• Gift and estate taxes will be eliminated. Before the Supreme Court’s repeal, total lifetime gifts and inheritances of over $5 million from one same-sex spouse to another were subject to state and federal estate and gift taxes. Annual gifts of up to $14,000 did not count against the $5 million.
• Survivor benefits will be mandated for Social Security and federal employee pensions in states where same-sex marriage is recognized. The benefits were already available for state government workers.
• Employer-sponsored benefits extended to a spouse such as health and disability insurance will no longer be taxable to the employee. Previously, if an employee put a same-sex spouse on a health insurance plan even in a state where same-sex marriage was recognized, the worker would be subject to federal taxes on the economic benefit of covering the spouse.
• Family Medical Leave Act benefits will be available for same-sex spouses.
• Federal and state income tax bites could be higher for many same-sex couples because they may suffer from the “marriage penalty” and will no longer be able to file separate returns.
• At the first spouse’s death, the surviving spouse can roll the other’s IRA into his or her own retirement account, preserving the tax-deferred growth.
• Same-sex spouses will be able to gain some additional creditor protection through a form of joint title only allowable for legally married spouses.
These benefits won’t generally be available in states where same-sex marriage is not recognized.