Same-Sex Update

11/13/2013

The effects of the landmark Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor are continuing to be felt across the United States. The next state up is Pennsylvania.  In Pennsylvania, transfers to surviving opposite sex spouses are completely exempt from the state inheritance tax, while transfers to "friends" - in effect, this is how a same sex surviving spouse is defined under current Pennsylvania law - are taxed at 15%. This result is based on a 1996 Pennsylvania law which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Now, and in light of Windsor,  a Pennsylvania resident is challenging the $11,000 Pennsylvania inheritance tax bill she received as the result of the death of her same sex spouse.  This same-sex couple lived together for 15 years and were married in Connecticut in 2011. One spouse/partner died in September 2012 from complications related to leukemia. the surviving spouse/partner is requesting a refund of the $11,000 in inheritance taxes she has paid and, in turn, challenging Pennsylvania's ban on same sex marriages based on constitutional grounds, including the equal protection clause, the Equal Rights Amendments, and due process of law.