The IRS has issued final regulations (T.D. 9785) that define terms in the tax code describing the marital status of taxpayers.
For federal tax purposes, the terms spouse, husband and wife mean an individual lawfully married to another individual. A marriage of two individuals is recognized for federal tax purposes if the marriage is recognized by the state, possession or territory of the United States in which the marriage is entered into, regardless of the laws of the state, possession or territory in which the individuals reside. The final regulations include a special rule for foreign marriages. Two individuals who enter into a relationship designated as marriage under the laws of a foreign jurisdiction are recognized as married for federal tax purposes if the relationship is recognized as marriage under the laws of at least one state, possession or territory of the U.S., regardless of where the individuals reside.
The term “marriage” doesn’t include a registered partnership, civil union or other similar formal relationship that is not designated as a marriage under the local law in which the relationship was entered into.
The regulations became effective on Sept. 2, 2016.
Partner, Washington National Tax Office
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