IRS Issues New Guidance for Same-Sex Couples
December 17, 2013 by Robin Maril, Senior Legislative Counsel
This week, the IRS issued a new notice providing guidance for same-sex couples navigating the rules for flexible spending accounts (FSAs), cafeteria plans, and health savings accounts (HSAs). Prior to this summer’s Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, employees could not be reimbursed for expenses incurred by a same-sex spouse through their FSA. Employees will now be eligible to be reimbursed for expenses incurred by a same-sex spouse and their dependents, including those incurred prior to the Windsor decision. This guidance also provides critical information on how limits on contributions to HSAs and dependent care FSAs apply to same-sex spouses. Based on this guidance, same-sex married couples will now be able to make pre-tax elections under a cafeteria plan—which is an opportunity to receive certain benefits on a pre-tax basis— in the middle of a plan year rather than beginning of the plan year. This accommodation will allow taxpayers to enroll a same-sex spouse in health coverage without having to wait for the usual enrollment period.
By invalidating Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Windsor decision laid the groundwork for equal access to many federal benefits and services for same-sex married couples. HRC applauds the IRS for taking the steps necessary to make this equality a reality for same-sex couples across the country. This notice is available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-14-01.pdf. To learn more about the Windsor decision and how it might impact your access to federal benefits visit HRC.org/SupremeCourt.
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