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Bill Would Permit Same-Sex Couples Previously Barred from Filing Taxes Jointly to Submit Amended Returns Dating Back to Year of Marriage 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and 71 of their congressional colleagues introduced the Refund Equality Act of 2017. This legislation would ensure that legally-married same-sex couples - who until the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 Windsor decision were barred from filing federal taxes jointly - are permitted to file amended tax returns back to the date of their marriage.

"With this bill, we can take an important step forward to righting past wrongs and ensuring all LGBTQ individuals are treated fairly, equally, and with respect under the law," Sen. Murray said. "Whether it's making sure same-sex couples can file amended tax returns, banning conversion therapy, combating credit discrimination, and so much more, I will keep pushing my colleagues to work together to advance equal treatment of all people, no matter who they love.”

“For years, same-sex married couples were paying more in taxes simply because of who they loved. Our bill will correct this injustice and give same-sex couples the fair treatment on their tax bill they should have received years ago,” said Cantwell.

Before the Supreme Court’s decision in Unites States v. Windsor, a same-sex married couple could not file federal income taxes as a married couple. After Windsor, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published guidance that clarified the IRS’s recognition of same-sex marriages, and stated that married same-sex couples could amend previously-filed tax returns to claim refunds or credits due as a result of corrected marital status. However, a provision in the tax code restricts this to only three years of previously filed returns, meaning that same-sex couples who were married in jurisdictions recognizing same-sex marriage prior to Windsor are unable to claim refunds for some of the years they were legally married. The Refund Equality Act would permit these couples to amend their tax returns for these years, allowing them to refile jointly and to secure an estimated total of $67 million in refunds to which they are entitled.

The legislation is cosponsored by 32 senators, including Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Al Franken (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Additionally, 39 members of the House of Representatives cosponsored the legislation.

A fact sheet on the legislation is available here. The bill text is available here