Gay Marriage
Getty Images
A decision on the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman, is expected to be announced Wednesday. If the act is overturned, married same-sex couples in a dozen states will become eligible for more than 1,000 spousal benefits that are currently off limits.

The case challenging DOMA was filed on behalf of 83-year old New Yorker Edith Windsor, who sued to get back the $363,000 in estate taxes she paid when her wife of more than 40 years died -- a tax bill she wouldn't owe if she had been married to a man.

If the Supreme Court leaves DOMA standing, the battle for federal benefits will continue. But here's what happens if DOMA is overturned:

Income tax: Same-sex couples would be able to file their federal income taxes jointly. For many couples -- typically those in which one person earns significantly more than the other -- merging incomes for tax purposes could result in big savings.

Janet and Janet Emery-Black, who married in California in 2008, estimate they could save more than $10,000 a year in income tax by filing jointly. Janet has always had a higher-paying job than her wife, who is now retired, so combining incomes would put them in a much lower tax bracket.

Other couples wouldn't be helped by filing jointly, however -- especially if their incomes are similar.

Gift tax: Currently, spouses in opposite-sex marriages can transfer unlimited assets to one another. But for same-sex couples, any gift of more than $14,000 begins chipping away at a lifetime gift limit of $5.25 million -- after which a 40% gift tax is assessed. Same-sex couples who divorce can also be subject to the federal gift tax when dividing assets. If DOMA is overturned, however, this extra tax will disappear.

Health insurance: Many married same-sex couples would no longer have to pay extra income tax on the medical benefits one partner receives through the other's health insurance plan. And federal employees will likely be granted spousal benefits, such as partner health insurance.

Death benefits: Same-sex couples would be eligible for the same federal tax treatment and Social Security benefits as opposite-sex couples in the event that one spouse passes away. This means a surviving spouse would be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits and exempt from the 40% federal estate tax on assets exceeding $5.25 million.

What the decision won't do: Even if DOMA is overturned, many same-sex couples won't receive federal spousal benefits. That's because the majority of states still don't allow same-sex marriage, and federal benefits would likely only be extended to those who are married at a state level and live in a state where that marriage is recognized, said Kyle Young, a financial adviser and vice president for Wells Fargo Advisors.

This also means that domestic partnerships and civil unions may not qualify for federal benefits,
Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in 12 states and Washington, D.C., while seven states grant domestic partnerships and civil unions, according to advocacy group the Freedom to Marry.

More from CNNMoney

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

How to Buy a Car

How to get the best deal and buy a car with confidence.

View Course »

Intro to Retirement

Get started early planning for your long term future.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Wouldn't they also save on the Fruit Tax ?

June 30 2013 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dang, I knew it was something more than a warm, fuzzy, feeling. It\'s the money!!!!! Now it all makes sense.

June 26 2013 at 1:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is on longer a free country, that's right folks, we are no longer free. Our politicians have been chipping away at our rights for the last 40 years and we sit back and allow them to continue to distroy our once Great Country. The Government has no so in who we marry, eat, have an aborition, tell us how to raise our kids and the list is just about endless. We still sit back and do notming? If the Bible beaters want to have a say in Government then they should have to pay taxes like the rest of Americans. or keep their mouths buttoned. We are broke and getting worse by the months nobody cares. Bring back the 60's and dump the jerks that are making laws that keep them from obeying themsleves. Stop the free-bee's and give aways. If you are healthy enough to make babies then you are healthy to get a job. Tired of paying for lazy people and the government making laws for us and not for them.

June 25 2013 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ajt1025's comment

If all of the rest of Americans paid taxes like you suggest, we might not be broke.

When you say bring back the 60's, are you talking pre-great society?

June 25 2013 at 9:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yup we will all end paying more taxes. After the giving amnesty to 20 million illegals we are screwed . The US is in trouble and we are on a fast track going down.
Once a great ... I am not sure any more

June 25 2013 at 5:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SPQR's comment

Yup. The BS about 11 mil illegals has got to be an understatement. I live in So California and there are that many here.

June 25 2013 at 8:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

YADA YADA YADA....................... Quit acting like the whole world is on the GAY side

June 25 2013 at 5:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I like the idea of getting rid of all income won't happen of course. But why should we be limited to only one spouse? What if I love four women? (that's my preference by the way). Why not 7 wives...I'd love them all equally. One for each day of the week....I mean as long as they are aware of the other 6, who is it hurting? Then, I can have all seven on my health insurance...isn't that an admirable goal? As a matter of fact, if it's only love that truly matters, why can't I marry one of my parents...or a child? Or my dog? If this entire DOMA marriage issue is about "love"..why not? Or is this really about money?

June 25 2013 at 5:18 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rychdog's comment

If it is between consenting adults, no one should have a say in it. It's their life, let them live it.

June 26 2013 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jim can you say homophobia?

June 25 2013 at 3:25 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lsieminski's comment
rychdog about heterophobia?

June 25 2013 at 5:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
James P Sanders

taxs and the goverment

June 25 2013 at 1:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

maybe we need to get rid of all rules on marriage. everyone just do what you want. no license, no alimony, no support, come and go as we want

June 25 2013 at 1:25 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment

Better idea. Get rid of income tax.

June 25 2013 at 2:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vegan's comment

Anybody hear of "The Fair Tax Plan"?
The time has come to abolish the IRS and do the FAIR thing.

June 25 2013 at 8:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down