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PRIDE Act Fixes Discrimination Against LGBT Couples in Tax Code

June 18, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and Andy Levin (MI-09) introduced H.R. 3299, the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality (PRIDE) Act of 2019. The PRIDE Act, which is scheduled to be marked up by the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, June 20 at 9:30 AM, includes language from H.R. 1244, the Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act, that would remove gendered language like “husband” and “wife” from the tax code to accommodate same sex couples. Instead, tax filings will use “spouses” and “married couple.”

The PRIDE Act also includes H.R. 3294, the Refund Equality Act, which was introduced this month on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and corrects the tax code to allow same-sex couples who married before the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down to claim the refunds they to which they are entitled. For years, same-sex couples in states that recognized legal marriage were wrongfully denied federal refunds because 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. Rep. Chu issued the following statement:

“Pride month is a chance for us to celebrate equality, and the victory that all love is equal. However, that is not the case in our tax code where discriminatory language and restrictions are still intact. That is why I am proud to be introducing the PRIDE Act to make some common sense fixes to the tax code. First, it will erase gendered language that left out same sex couples by only referring to a husband and a wife. We know that families come in all forms and it’s time our federal paperwork reflect that.

“Second, this bill will correct an older injustice against same-sex couples and put money directly back into the pockets of families who have earned it. 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 PRIDE Act solves this problem. I am thrilled that this bill will be marked up in the Ways and Means Committee this week and I will continue to push to have this bill signed into law.”

In the Senate, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is introducing companion legislation this week to also correct that IRS code post-US. v. Windsor.

The text of the bill can be found here. A section-by-section summary of the bill is here.