Tax Alert

Employers Have Limited Time to File DOMA Protective Refund Claims
(April 10, 2013)

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), employers have only a few more days to file DOMA protective refund claims.

A claim for 2009 benefits must be filed no later than April 15, 2013, to preserve the right to a refund if DOMA – a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman” – is held to be unconstitutional. After April 15, claims for 2009 will be time-barred by the statute of limitations. The statute will remain open for benefits in 2010 and later.

Under current law, benefits that can be provided on a tax-free basis to a husband and wife cannot be provided on a tax-free basis to same-sex married couples. These benefits, which include health insurance benefits and group term life insurance, generally constitute taxable wages when received for the benefit of an employee’s same-sex spouse. Should the court strike down DOMA, businesses may be able to claim a refund for Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes paid on previously taxable benefits provided to same-sex married couples.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, on March 27, and the court’s ruling is expected in late June.


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Howard Wagner

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Howard M. Wagner
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