Have You Amended Your Retirement Plan to Include Same Sex Benefits?

on April 23, 2014 by Kara Larsen

Kara Larsen picThe U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor held that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA defined the term “marriage” as being only between a male and a female. The Windsor court ruled that marriage should include same-sex couples. Additionally, the term “spouse” was held to include same-sex spouses who are validly married under state laws that recognize same-sex marriages.

In an effort to comply with the Windsor decision, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently announced in Notice 2014-19 the deadlines for businesses to amend their retirement plans. Under Windsor, certain provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, including its application to retirement plans, had to be modified to apply to same-sex spouses. The IRS’s recognition of valid marriages between same-sex individuals extends to spouses living in a state that does not recognize the validity of their same-sex marriage. As a result, this change impacts businesses across the country.

The IRS Notice states that qualified retirement plans in states that recognize same-sex marriages had until June 26, 2013 to be amended, while all qualified retirement plans (including those in a state that does not recognize such marriages) were to be amended by September 16, 2013. Sponsors have until the later of either the tax return filing deadline or December 31, 2014 to amend the plan documents, but governmental plans have until the close of the first regular legislative session of the legislative body with the authority to amend the plan that ends after December 31, 2014, to amend the plan documents.

It should be noted, however, that if your plan generally refers to the term “spouse” as defined in the Internal Revenue Code, it may not be necessary to amend it. For help determining whether your qualified retirement plan must be amended, contact Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt to schedule an initial consultation.

For a free initial consultation with skilled corporate litigation lawyers, contact Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt, P.A. We have been providing outstanding legal services for more than 35 years. We are conveniently located in New York and New Jersey. To schedule your appointment, please call us at (201) 820-6001 or (212) 692-0200. We can also be found on the Internet, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube. We also have a network of local counsel throughout the United States.