Due to passage in 1996 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government does not recognize the newer state laws regarding same-sex marriages or civil unions. Only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized under federal law. This means that a same-sex couple is prohibited from filing as “Married Filing Joint” or “Married Filing Separate” on their federal tax returns.
The IRS makes this exceedingly clear in the Form 1040 instructions which state: “For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife and the word ‘spouse’ means a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
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