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On 50th Anniversary of Stonewall Riots, Rep. Chu Introduces Refund Equality Act

June 14, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) led her Ways and Means Democratic colleagues in introducing the Refund Equality Act. For years, same-sex couples in states that recognized legal marriage were wrongfully denied tax refunds they earned because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) did not allow them to file federal taxes jointly. That law was overturned in 2013 by the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor, but the IRS still lacks the authority to override limitations in the tax code that limits to three years the period within which a married couple may file jointly after having filed separate returns. This bill would correct that to allow the IRS to provide refunds to same-sex couples who married in states that recognized same-sex marriage before DOMA was overturned. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the Refund Equality Act would return $67 million to taxpayers whose marriages were discriminated against. Rep. Chu issued the following statement:

“As we celebrate Pride Month, and as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the pivotal Stonewall Riots, I am proud to be introducing the Refund Equality Act. This bill not only corrects an injustice against same-sex couples, it also puts money directly back into the pockets of families who have earned it. Unfortunately, for too long, discriminatory laws penalized same-sex married couples by denying them the ability to file jointly and claim tax refunds they were entitled. That injustice was finally corrected in the 2013 U.S. v. Windsor decision, but restrictions in the code still prevent many of those families from claiming refunds for prior years. For instance, since certain states, including California Connecticut, California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., adopted marriage equality before the ruling, some legally married same-sex couples were forced to file separate federal income taxes for years. Because of IRS restrictions, these couples cannot amend their returns to claim reimbursement credits for many prior tax years. The Refund Equality Act solves this problem. It’s time to act swiftly to right this wrong and erase the harm done by years of discriminatory laws.”

Original co-sponsors of this legislation include: Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), John Larson (D-CT), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Danny Davis (D-IL), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Don Beyer (D-VA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA).

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is introducing companion legislation in the Senate and issued the following statement: 

“The federal government forced legally married same-sex couples in Massachusetts to file as individuals and pay more in taxes for almost a decade,” said Senator Warren. “We need to call out that discrimination and to make it right -- Congress should pass the Refund Equality Act immediately.”

Text of the legislation can be found here.