Same-Sex Marriage & Your Rights

Earlier this year, the U.S.Supreme Court ruled in a case concerning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that same-sex marriages would be recognized by the Federal government.  In September, State Controller John Chiang distributed a notice to all state employees stating that all State agencies “can now accept same-sex marriage certificates for benefit eligibility and enrollment under the same rules as opposite-sex marriages.  Also, if you were already in a same-sex marriage prior to the court decision and have your spouse enrolled on your health or dental benefits, the Sate was obligated to report those benefits as income and withhold Federal income taxes, social security, and Medicare from your pay check.

Controller Chiang’s notice went on to read: “If this applies to you, you must notify your personnel office and have them assist you to stop the extra tax withholdings on your benefits.  Not changing your enrollment leaves your tax status ‘as is’ and Federal income taxes, social security, and Medicare will continue to be withheld at the higher rate.  The State Controller can make this change both for current and prior years.  Please contact your personnel office to make changes and get answers to any questions.”

In addition to the notice to all state employees, the Controller has already sent a follow-up notice to all State departments last month requesting their assistance in reaching out to employees.  The following are two links to more technical materials that you may be interested in:


As a result, the California State University (CSU) has already directed its Human Resource administrators to notify employees of these recent IRS changes and remind employees to consult with tax advisors about filing amended tax returns; and to process same-sex marriage enrollments validated by supporting documentation.

Note: CFA is unable to advise our members beyond providing the information below.  Members seeking to amend returns and make other adjustments should seek advice from tax experts.