WASHINGTON – Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 72 of their congressional colleagues today to introduce the Refund Equality Act of 2017. This legislation would ensure that legally-married same-sex couples – who until the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor decision were barred from filing federal taxes jointly – are permitted to file amended tax returns back to the date of their marriage.
“Equal treatment under the law is a founding principle of this nation, and today’s legislation is in service of that principle,” said Senator Cardin. “Ensuring that same-sex couples are afforded the same tax benefits as every other legally married couple is fair, just and, frankly, long overdue.”
Currently, married couples who previously filed taxes separately are permitted to file amended joint returns dating back up to three years, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lacks the authority to override this limitation. As a result, same-sex couples who were married in jurisdictions recognizing same-sex marriage prior to Windsor are unable to claim refunds for years they were legally married. The Refund Equality Act would permit these couples to amend their tax returns for these years, allowing them to file jointly and to secure an estimated total of $67 million in refunds to which they are entitled.
Apart from Sens. Cardin and Warren, the legislation is cosponsored by 32 senators, including Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Coons (D-Del), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jack Reed (D-R.I), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
Additionally, 39 members of the House of Representatives cosponsored the legislation.
A fact sheet on the legislation is available here. The bill text is available here.