WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Democratic lawmakers are celebrating the passage of a House bill that would amend the tax laws to include gender-neutral language and pay increased rebates to same-sex couples that were together prior to legalized same-sex "marriage."
First introduced in 2017, the Refund Equality Act of 2019 was re-introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in June as the Promoting Respect for Individuals' Dignity and Equality Act of 2019 (PRIDE Act or HR 3299). The bill is marketed as an effort to remove discriminatory gendered language on tax return forms, but it also allows same-sex couples to claim the marriage tax break for the years they were "married" before it was legal.
Warren's re-introduction came amid mainstream media calls for "gay reparation, or policies intended to address the legacy of state-sanctioned repression of homosexuals."
In a statement announcing the bill's re-introduction, Warren said, "The federal government forced legally married same-sex couples in Massachusetts to file as individuals and pay more in taxes for almost a decade. It is only right that we change this tax code to make it fairer for all."
The companion House bill was introduced by Democrats Judy Chu of California and Andy Levin of Michigan.
"This bill corrects injustices in our laws that failed to recognize the reality of legal same-sex marriage in our country," Chu said.
In July, after members of the House unanimously passed HR 3299, Nancy Pelosi said in a press release, "In passing the PRIDE Act, Democrats are honoring our diversity and providing long-overdue justice to countless same-sex couples across the country who have been denied critical tax refunds because of who they are and who they love."
LifeSiteNews reported the House used a voice vote to pass the PRIDE Act and legislators' stance on the vote went unrecorded.
She continued: "By eliminating gendered language that discriminates against same-sex couples and putting money directly back into the pockets of families who have earned it, this critical legislation offers commonsense fixes that modernize our tax code and honor our bedrock values."
The cost of the bill is estimated at $57 million through 2029.
According to a "Fact Sheet" published on Warren's website, it states the problem with the current legislation is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is limited in the number of years same-sex "married" couples can amend their tax returns.
She claims it "is more than justified" that the Refund Equality Act creates an exemption to the tax code's three-year limitation for filing an amended federal tax refund.
Under this legislation, same-sex couples who were forced to file their tax returns separately could claim a tax break starting from 2004. Additionally, the IRS is required to pay interest on the difference in their return.
Same-sex "married" couples have been allowed to file jointly since 2013 after the 2013 Supreme Court decision United States v. Windsor ruled a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996 was a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment for defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
United States v. Windsor essentially ruled it was unconstitutional to limit what marriage is.
Then-President Barack Obama claimed, "This [the DOMA] was discrimination enshrined in law," and the Obama administration ruled the tax filing guidelines applied to same-sex "married" couples. At the time, it was estimated that there were approximately 130,000 gay so-called marriages in the United States.
The rule applied retroactively. Per the tax code, same-sex couples could file amended returns for three years, from 2010 to 2012.
Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the Republican leader on the House Ways and Means Committee, noted several administrative concerns with this bill. One of those was that it extended the time people could file amended returns to over a decade.
"This legislation would allow certain taxpayers to file amended returns dating back to the 2004 tax year," Brady said. "These amended returns filed by taxpayers under this legislation would be subject to IRS audits; however, the ability of the IRS to conduct accurate, thorough audits of amended returns for taxable years of more than 10 years ago is questionable."
Brady also noted the IRS would have challenges with calculating credit interest due to the legislation's lack in specifying when the interest should be calculated from.
"Unfortunately, this bill does not adequately address these significant administrative concerns," Brady wrote.
The PRIDE Act has moved on to the Senate for consideration.