Press Release

Gillibrand, Colleagues Introduce Legislation To Remedy Unequal Tax Treatment Of Same-Sex Couples

Jul 7, 2023

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined 47 of her Senate colleagues to reintroduce the bipartisan Refund Equality Act. The bill would allow legally married same-sex couples who were barred from filing federal taxes jointly until 2013 to file amended returns back to the date of their marriage. The bill will help same-sex couples secure an estimated $55 million in refunds. 

“For too long, same-sex couples were denied the same rights and benefits as their heterosexual counterparts, including the ability to maximize tax benefits by filing jointly,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bill would right that wrong and provide millions in refunds to couples that should have received them in the first place. I’m proud to be introducing this bipartisan legislation and look forward to getting it passed.” 

Specifically, the Refund Equality Act would:

  • Return $55 million in refunds to taxpayers whose marriages were systematically discriminated against, according to a 2021 estimate by the Joint Committee on Taxation.
  • Allow same-sex couples who were married in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage to file for income tax adjustments prior to 2013, back to the date of their marriage. 
  • Create exemptions for two Internal Revenue Code limitations on amending returns: Section 6013(b), which limits to three years the period within which a married couple may make an election to file jointly after having filed separate returns, and Section 6511(a), which generally requires a claim for credit or refund of an overpayment of tax to be filed within three years from the time the return was filed. 
  • Follow other exemptions to the three-year period to amend returns, ranging from adjustments to capital loss carryback to adjustments for retired service members who receive an award of disability compensations.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Angus King (I-ME), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Fetterman (D-PA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Jon Ossoff (D-GA).

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Equality California, Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR), Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), and Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE) have endorsed the bill. 

Full text of the Refund Equality Act is available here. A one-page summary is available here