Appeals Court Upholds Estate Tax Refund to Surviving Spouse in Same-Sex Marriage

On October 18, 2012, in Windsor v. U.S., 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 21785 (2d Cir. 2012), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling, which held that the definition of “marriage” under the Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) unconstitutional.  DOMA defines marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”  The definition was unconstitutional because it deprived the surviving spouse of equal protection, as guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  As a result, the surviving spouse was entitled to a marital deduction from federal estate taxes and to a refund of estate tax paid after the death of her spouse.

Click here for my blog posting on the lower court ruling.

The Second Circuit is the second circuit court to hold DOMA’s definition of marriage unconstitutional.  On May 31, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Mass. v. U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., 682 F. 3d 1 (1st Cir. 2012),  held DOMA’s definition of “marriage” unconstitutional.


Want to further discuss these issues?  Feel free to contact me at 954-944-3929 or nrumbak@rumbaklaw.com.

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