IRS Ruling Provides Another Compelling Reason Why Hawaii Should Provide Marriage Equality

August 29, 2013

Aug. 29, 2013

For Immediate Release

Honolulu, HI.  Today’s ruling by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service provides momentum for Hawaii lawmakers to enact a marriage equality measure this year.

The federal agencies ruled that if same-sex couples were legally married in jurisdictions with marriage equality, then their marriages will be treated as married for federal tax purposes, regardless of where they live, even in Hawaii.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages.  Hawaii has a civil unions law, but does not allow gay couples to marry.

“This is a significant ruling and further proof that civil unions are not enough,” said Rep. Chris Lee, a leading advocate for marriage equality.  “We need to act now in a special session so gay couples in Hawaii can be treated just like other married couples.  Delaying until 2014 will deny them this opportunity to be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, and that includes income, gift and estate taxes that could save those families tens of thousands of dollars.”

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.

“If we fail to act, Mainland couples who have been waiting to marry and honeymoon here could travel to one of the thirteen states or D.C. that already recognizes marriage for tax reasons which could cost our economy hundreds of millions of dollars,”  Lee said. “And Hawaii couples could join them.  That would be a further hit on our economy.”

In July, a study by University of Hawaii economists found that marriage equality would lead to substantial increases in Hawaii visitor arrivals, visitor spending, and state and county tax revenues due to pent up demand for same-sex marriage.

Hawaii United For Marriage is a statewide coalition of religious congregations, businesses, labor and community organizations.  More information is available at


Jim McCoy