Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Second Circuit Strikes Down Part of Defense of Marriage Act

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Second Circuit Strikes Down Part of Defense of Marriage Act

Article excerpt

The Second Circuit recently affirmed a New York federal district court decision that allowed the surviving spouse of a same-sex couple to take an unlimited marital deduction when computing the deceased spouse's estate tax liability The Second Circuit agreed with the lower court that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), P.L. 104-199, is unconstitutional.

Sec. 2056(a) allows an estate to deduct the value of any property passing from the decedent to a surviving spouse. The law of the state of domicile usually determines whether two persons were married at the time of death when completing an estate tax return. Section 3 of DOMA defines "marriage" and "spouse" for all federal legal purposes and states that marriage can only be "a legal union between one man and one woman," and a spouse can only be "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." In a previous case, last May, the First Circuit, in Massachusetts v. United States Dep't of Health and Human Servs., No. 10-2204 (1st Cir. 5/31/12), aff'g Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, 699 F. Supp. 2d 374 (D. Mass. 2010), also held that DOMA violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution because it denies same-sex married couples the same federal benefits, such as filing a joint federal income tax return, afforded most married couples.

For 30 years, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were in a committed relationship living in New York City. In 1993, when the option became available in the state of New York, Windsor and Spyer registered as domestic partners, and in 2007 they were married in Canada. …

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