Those who are interested in tax law have been waiting patiently to find out how the Internal Revenue Service would implement changes to the law brought about by the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act. 

As many are already aware, earlier this summer the Supreme Court found that a federal law that limited the definition of "marriage" in U.S. statutes to a marriage between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. As a result, federal statutes must now be read to include any legal marriage, which effectively extends the applicability of laws extending benefits, rights, and legal obligations on the basis of marriage to same-sex couples who are legally married in a state that allows it. There are a few key areas where this applies, including income tax law. 

Previously same-sex couples who were legally married under state law were not able to file federal income tax returns as "married filing together" or "married filing separately" but instead had to file as "single". This made filing income taxes more complex and left same-sex couples ineligible for some tax credits.

Now, the I.R.S. has announced that they have created a new policy, allowing same-sex couples to file jointly no matter what state they live in, as long as they were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage.

This means that same-sex couples living in states like Georgia that do not allow same-sex marriage will need to file their state and federal taxes differently next year.

Couples will also have the opporuntinty to amend their returns for a specific number of tax years if they so choose.

Source: New York Times, "Gay Marriages Get Recognition From the I.R.S." Annie Lowrey, Aug. 29, 2013.