Obergefell v. Hodges: Supreme Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage

June 29, 2015

Last Friday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in a 5-4 decision of the Obergefell v. Hodges case making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states and territories of the United States. The ruling has allowed same-sex couples to have the same tax filing options as opposite-sex couples.

Like with opposite-sex couples, a same-sex couple could end up with a marriage bonus or penalty. That is, they could end up paying more or less in taxes as a result of being married. Among relatively well-off couples, for example, partners who earn relatively equal amounts of income have higher tax burdens when they marry. In contrast, couples with a large difference in income between the partners will gain a tax benefit. In general, there are more couples receiving benefits from marriage than penalties.

One of the questions that may arise is how this affects marriage rates. Many people don’t know how getting married will affect their taxes, so there really is little or no evidence to suggest that people are getting married more or less often because of this consequence.

The Supreme Court’s ruling has definitely simplified the tax system. Whether a same-sex marriage, or a opposite-sex marriage, the tax treatment is the same. Furthermore, same-sex couples will no longer have any difference in filing status between their state income taxes and federal income taxes.

The Supreme Court decision also has affected same-sex couples in other ways, such as eligibility for spousal Social Security payments, property inheritance, and hospital visitation rights.

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