In a rare, wholly bipartisan move, the House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation that would allow same-sex couples to apply for tax refunds going back years if they were married before the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down in 2013.
The bill, known as The PRIDE Act (Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality Act), passed on a voice vote with zero opposition. The legislation was introduced by Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Andy Levin (D-MI).
Until the 2013 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, married same-sex couples were not allowed to file federal tax returns jointly. As a result, those couples potentially lost out on considerable tax benefits.
After the SCOTUS ruling, the IRS allowed those couples to file amended tax returns for the three years before the decision – 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The PRIDE Act, if enacted, would allow same-sex married couples to refile tax returns for the entire period they were legally married if they lived in a state that recognized same-sex marriages.
Additionally, the legislation would remove gendered language (“husband,” “wife”) from the federal tax code.
Before the DOMA ruling, those jurisdictions would include Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
The Washington Blade reports the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates those couples could stand to recoup up to $67 million in tax refunds.
Despite the unanimous approval in the House, the issue now moves to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced similar legislation known as the Refund Equality Act.
However, there’s no guarantee that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will allow his chamber to even vote on the bill.