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Julie Garber

Should Same Sex Couples Have to Pay Federal Estate Taxes?

By November 11, 2010

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Not according to 81 year old "trailblazing gay rights activist" Edith Windsor, who filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Monday seeking reimbursement of the $350,000 estate tax bill that she paid as a result of the death of her partner of 41 years, Thea Spyer.

Windsor and Spyer were married in Canada in 2007 and Spyer died in 2009, but because a 1996 federal law called the Defense of Marriage Act only recognizes marriage between one woman and one man, Windsor had to pay the estate tax bill in a timely manner in order to avoid interest and penalties that will accrue during the course of the lawsuit.

According to Windsor, "All marriages should be treated equally in the eyes of the law." Had Windsor and Spyer been legally married in the eyes of the IRS, then there would have been no federal estate taxes owed due to the unlimited marital deduction. Windsor is therefore seeking to have the Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional so that the $350,000 in taxes that she paid can be refunded to her.

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