LGBTQ+ Americans have historically received unjust treatment by the United States government, but some politicians are now looking to correct past wrongs. On June 20, Massachusetts Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren introduced the Refund Equality Act, a billthat would benefit same-sex couples formerly discriminated against through the U.S. Tax Code due to unequal marriage laws.
If the act passes, LGBTQ+ couples married in states where their union was recognized before gay marriage was legalized nationwide in 2013 could amend their past tax returns to receive IRS refunds. According to NBC News, that’s approximately $57 million in total owed to countless couples who weren’t able to jointly file federal tax returns prior to the Supreme Court’s decision.
As Warren noted in a statement, her home of Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage back in 2004. Yet because the government’s definition of marriage didn’t match the state’s, many married LGBTQ+ couples in Massachusetts, depending on their incomes and individual finances, were prevented from receiving the refunds they deserved.
“The federal government forced legally married same-sex couples in Massachusetts to file as individuals and pay more in taxes for almost a decade,” Warren said. “We need to call out that discrimination and to make it right — Congress should pass the Refund Equality Act immediately.”
This isn’t the first time Warren has spoken up about and called for change on the issue. In July 2017, the senator proposed the first version of the Refund Equality Act, meant to refund married same-sex couples an estimated $67 million that they unfairly paid prior to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) being overturned. Though co-sponsored by 36 members of Congress, the act was stalled, and therefore had to be reintroduced this year.
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[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Melissa Kravitz and originally published at Mic. Title changed by P&P.]
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