Treasury OKs gay marriages

AFP-JIJI

The U.S. Treasury on Thursday recognized gay marriage under tax laws, giving the same tax benefits to legally married same-sex couples that heterosexual couples enjoy.

The landmark ruling applies to all lawfully married same-sex couples in the country, even if they live in states that do not recognize the marriage.

Previously, legally married same-sex couples had to file their federal income tax returns declaring themselves unmarried, losing out on a broad range of benefits and protections, including transfers of property, gifts and inheritances.

Gay couples will be able to, for example, claim exemptions — which reduce taxable income — that favor married couples over single people.

The ruling came in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 26 that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to married gay and lesbian couples by strictly defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. As a result the federal government was allowed to recognize same-sex couples in all federal matters, such as sharing pension benefits — the issue that brought the case to the highest court.