The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Practice group of  Marcum LLP, a top national accounting and advisory firm, today released its Top 10 Tax Planning Tips for Legally Married Same-Sex Couples. The guide provides a preliminary roadmap for same-sex married couples in the first year they will file taxes since the federal government officially recognized same-sex marriage for tax purposes.

“Since the Defense of Marriage Act was invalidated by the Supreme Court in June, 2013 is the first tax year same-sex married couples will be able to file joint federal tax returns,” said Nanette Lee Miller, National Leader of Marcum’s LGBT Practice. “We are advising all our clients to take full advantage of the tax planning opportunities now available to them and to be proactive in leveraging tax provisions previously accessible only to heterosexual families.”

“Estate planning is also an essential component of effective tax planning and wealth preservation,” said Janis Cowhey McDonagh, Co-Leader of the firm’s LGBT group and a trusts and estates attorney. “2013 is a brand new environment for same-sex married couples looking to minimize their tax exposure. It is important to consider the full range of options for protecting their families and their assets.”

Marcum’s Top 10 Tax Tips for LGBT married couples is a companion to the Firm’s Top 10 Non-Traditional Family Estate Planning Checklist. The tax tips start with these basics: 

  1. Married Tax Status:  Determine if there is any benefit to filing amended income tax returns using “married” status.  
  2. Non-Taxable Fringe Benefits:  Consider amending income tax returns to exclude previous taxable income which was used to purchase job-related benefits for your spouse, such as health insurance, life insurance, and other fringe benefits. 
  3. Employer Spousal Benefits:   Take advantage of all non-taxable fringe benefits available to your spouse. 
  4. Retirement Accounts:  To save taxes your beneficiaries will pay after your death and allow the pay out to be stretched out as long as possible, check your IRA/401K plan designations. 
  5. Social Security:  Apply for social security marital benefits and the lump sum death benefit, if applicable. 
  6. Estate Taxes:  If your spouse recently died and the estate paid estate taxes on the portion of the estate that you inherited, file a claim for refund. 
  7. Making Gifts:  Consider the effect of transferring assets, gift tax free, to your spouse. 
  8. Estate Planning:  If you reside in a state that has a death tax and recognizes same-sex marriages, establish a marital trust, Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust (QTIP) or disclaimer trust for your spouse in your Will. 
  9. Payroll Tax Withholding:  Update your Form W-4 with your employer to change your status to married and increase or decrease your exemptions. 
  10. Transitioning:  Same-sex couples in a domestic partnership or civil union should consider getting married, as different laws apply. 

To download the complete guide, or for more information about tax and estate planning services for same-sex married couples, visit An interactive map providing state-by-state information on same-sex marriage unions is also available on the website.

Related articles: Expert Advice: How to Legally Protect Your Relationship

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