10 Same-sex Marriage Tax Filing Tips

Understand the 'Place of Celebration' Rule
For the federal government to recognize your marriage, it has to have been performed somewhere it was legally recognized. Here, Marcia Kadish (left) and Tanya McCloskey become the first same-sex couple to be married in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

If you're not already familiar with the term "Place of Celebration," then you probably will be soon. The Place of Celebration refers to an IRS rule that recognizes same-sex unions for federal tax purposes.

Basically, the Place of Celebration rule means same-sex marriages will be recognized by the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS if the union was legal where it was officiated or "celebrated." Importantly, the Place of Celebration rule allows same-sex marriages that fall under these guidelines to be recognized all over the United States, whether or not the couple lives in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. In effect, it makes a legally married same-sex couple's federal filing status immutable no matter where they live — or relocate to — in the U.S.

The Place of Celebration rule applies to any same-sex marriage legally performed in any of the 50 states of the United States (in which it is allowed by law), the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory or a foreign country, but does not apply to domestic partnerships or civil unions. The ruling is important at tax time because, for the first time, legally married same-sex couples are afforded access to the same deductions and credits as heterosexual couples [source: U.S. Department of Treasury].