Proposed Bill Could Grant Same-Sex Couples $67 Million in Tax Refunds

Dolores Ochoa

The Trump Administration has been routinely criticized for its indifferent treatment of LGBTQ Americans, but new legislation from Congress may give LGBTQ couples reason to hope that positive changes are ahead.  Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and House Ways and Means Ranking Committee Member Richard Neal (D-Mass) introduced the Refund Equality Act of 2017, a bill enabling same-sex couples to file for tax refunds that they had been previously denied.

Under the current law, married couples who previously filed separate taxes are only permitted to file amended joint tax returns dating back three years. This restriction discriminates against couples that were legally married before the passage of marriage equality.

“For nearly a decade, legally married same-sex couples had to file their taxes as single persons, often paying more taxes than they would owe if they could file as married,” Senator Warren said. “This bill is a simple fix to allow same-sex couples to claim the tax refunds they earned but were denied because of who they love.”

Under the Refund Equality Act of 2017, couples married in states that recognized same-sex marriages prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. V. Windsor, would be entitled to tax refunds dating back to the year of their marriages.  

“All legally married couples in this country deserve to be treated equally,” said Representative Neal. “This bill would codify into law an important correction that would enable same-sex married couples to go back and claim the tax refunds and credits for which they qualify. The Supreme Court has ruled as such, and now it’s time for Congress to act and make sure all Americans are treated with the fairness and equality they deserve under the law."

The Refund Equality Act of 2017 has received significant support from Congress, having been co-sponsored by 30 senators and 39 members of the House of Representatives.

It is estimated that The Refund Equality Act of 2017 would allow same-sex couples to obtain a total of $67 million in refunds.


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