We're all celebrating a day that I - personally - never thought I'd live to see: the day that the US Supreme Court ruled that federal law must accept state-recognized marriages of same-sex couples.
But, of course, immediately there have been dozens of "what happens now" threads on the internet, some from otherwise reliable sources, which are providing misinformation or - in the very least - jumping the gun on matters that must still be clarified by Congress and the IRS.
First and foremost, a couple who is recognized as married under state law is now considered married for federal purposes too. That's a given, and such couples should be able to file joint tax returns for 2013* (Note that, if you elect to file separately, your status will now be Married Filing Separately ... NOT Single. MFS status may cost you a bit more tax.)
*I've already seen a thread where people have suggested that one can amend back years to file jointly. This is something that has to come from the IRS, and is far from certain. But a cold reading of the decision is that they struck down Sec 3 of DOMA as if it never existed, which possibly opens the door to doing just that. Likely the IRS will rule - as they did when they extended community property laws to certain gay marrieds and RDPs a few years ago - that the filing as "married" is mandatory for 2013, but optional if you want to go back and amend. We have to wait and see.
Another set of messages I read suggests that same sex couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions in their state are now "upgraded" to marriage. I really doubt this will be the case, since no government can "make" you married if you didn't enter into one. Some states may facilitate marriages for those previously RDPs, but that's about it.
What if you live in a state that doesn't currently recognize same-sex marriages (like AZ), but got married in a state that did (like MA). I have a client in this exact situation and they already called. The problem is that Sec 2 of DOMA - which gave the states the right to refuse to honor a same-sex marriage from another state - was NOT part of the court ruling today, and technically still stands. We'll have to "wait and see" how that will work out.
What if you got married in, say, Canada? Also unclear at this point, but it is unlikely that the DOMA decision will provide any relief.
That's about it for now, and I'll add comments if I hear anything further. Meanwhile, please take with a grain of salt (and a strong Margarita :) anything you read about "what this means" on internet message boards.