Yesterday, the House of Representatives unanimously approved of H.R. 3299, the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality (PRIDE) Act of 2019, introduced by Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27) and Andy Levin (MI-09).
The PRIDE Act would remove gendered language like “husband” and “wife” from the tax code to accommodate same sex couples. Instead, tax filings will use words like “spouse” and “married couple.” The PRIDE Act also 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. In the Senate, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also introduced companion legislation that would allow for same-sex couples married before the repeal of DOMA to refile their taxes as a married couple. Reps. Chu and Levin issued the following statements:
“This bill corrects injustices in our laws that failed to recognize the reality of legal same-sex marriage in our country,” said Rep. Chu. “For starters, it removes gendered language like ‘husband and wife’ and replaces it with neutral wording like ‘they’ and ‘married couple’. It also allows same-sex couples who married in states before the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to go back and refile past taxes as a married couple, something they have been prevented from doing even after the repeal of DOMA by an IRS restriction that only allows married couples who filed separately to refile returns going back three years. Legalizing same-sex marriage has meant greater equality for families across our country. It’s time our tax code reflect that. I’m thrilled to have the support of my colleague Andy Levin and I hope the Senate will act on this legislation soon.”
“The House today sent a message to LGBTQ married couples across America that their unions are recognized, valued and dignified by the U.S. government,” said Rep. Levin. “The PRIDE Act moves our country closer to true equality and equity for the LGBTQ community and I am proud that the House today passed this important bill. I commend Congresswoman Chu for her leadership in getting the PRIDE Act to the House Floor, and Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Neal for their commitment to passing legislation that affirms the LGBTQ community.”