Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions

Financial Advisor for Gay Couples Gay Friendly Financial Advisor Annapolis March 30, 2016 Author: Woody Derricks

Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions


If you’re in a domestic partnership, civil union or similar formal relationship that is not a marriage under state law, you’re not considered as married for federal tax purposes. This was made clear by the IRS in its Revenue Ruling 2013-17.

Revenue Ruling 2013-17 ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions, foreign or domestic, that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or not.*

However, Revenue Ruling 2013-17 makes clear that it does NOT apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.

According to the ruling, for federal tax purposes, the term “marriage” does not include registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or other similar formal relationships recognized under state law that are not denominated as a marriage under that state’s law, and the terms “spouse,” “husband and wife,” “husband,” and “wife” do not include individuals who have entered into such a formal relationship. This conclusion applies regardless of whether individuals who have entered into such relationships are of the opposite sex or the same sex.

gay friendly financial advisorIf this ruling leaves you with questions about how to file your federal tax return, you can find a list of Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Registered Domestic Partners and Individuals in Civil Unions on the IRS website at:

The questions and answers provide information to individuals of the same sex and opposite sex who are in registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or other similar formal relationships that are not marriages under state law. Questions and answers 9 through 27 concern registered domestic partners who reside in community property states and who are subject to their state’s community property laws.

The IRS website also has links to the following resources that you might find helpful: Revenue Ruling 2013-17, Frequently Asked Questions for same-sex couples. See also Publication 555, Community Property.

If you have additional questions after viewing the IRS website or need additional help to determine what is appropriate for your situation, consult your legal, tax, and/or financial advisor.

* The U.S. Supreme Court has since legalized same-sex marriage across the United States (Obergefell v. Hodges in June, 2015).

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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