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Gay Widow Sues Feds Over Estate Tax Payment

  • November 12th, 2010

The surviving spouse of a lesbian couple is suing the federal government for reimbursement of the $350,000 tax bill she paid on her wife's estate.

Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer became engaged in 1967 and were married in Canada in 2007, although they lived in New York City. Ordinarily, spouses can leave any amount of property to their spouses free of federal estate tax. But when Ms. Spyer died in 2009, Ms. Windsor, 81, had to pay Ms Spyer's estate tax bill because of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which denies federal recognition of gay marriages.

Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA

Jeffrey Hammond

Hammond and Associates, LLC, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate
Bethesda, MD

Margaret O'Reilly

Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Herndon, VA

William Fralin

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm PC
Bethesda, MD

"While New York State considered us married, the federal government did not, so the government taxed Thea's estate as though we were strangers rather than spouses," she told the New York Daily News.

Windsor's suit, filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan, seeks to have the Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional and asks for a refund of the $350,000 Ms. Windsor paid in estate taxes. The law "effectively imposes a tax on being gay," Ms. Windsor said.

For a New York Times article on this suit and others like it involving challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, click here.

Last Modified: 11/12/2010

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