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Tax Day: Almost Three Years Later, Problems Remain in Tax Law Following United States v. Windsor

by Hayley Miller April 11, 2016

For LGBTQ people and families, tax season can raise unique filing questions. Ahead of Tax Day, which falls on April 18 this year, HRC is highlighting some of the biggest issues impacting the LGBTQ community.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor in 2013, the IRS published guidance alerting same-sex married taxpayers about their right to amend previous years’ tax returns.

Couples whose marriages were recognized in states before the Windsor decision and who would have otherwise benefited from the so-called marriage-bonus were most likely to file amended returns. This included couples whose incomes were very unequal or couples where one person received health coverage through a spouse’s employer and owed taxes on “imputed income.”

Although same-sex couples have been marrying in states like Massachusetts since 2004, the IRS has offered couples only the standard 3-year look-back period covering tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012.

This means that couples married in Canada or Massachusetts in the early 2000s could lose up to seven years of overpayments with no recourse.

HRC has urged both Congress and the IRS to take affirmative steps to provide an extended look back period for these couples in order to be in full compliance with both U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges.

To learn more about retroactivity, click here.

Need help filing?

Call the IRS’ hotline at 1-800-906-9887 or visit to locate a VITA site near you.

Call 1-888-227-7669 or visit to locate an AARP-sponsored Tax-Aide site near you.

For information about Free File, visit

If you’re planning to use a paid tax preparer, here are some tips from the IRS on choosing the right one:

Hayley Miller
Hayley Miller


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