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In the wake of two federal court rulings striking down West Virginia’s marriage protection amendment, which had previously defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, the state tax department has announced starting next year, it will remove the words “husband” and “wife” from all tax forms and informational materials, replacing them with the more gender-neutral “spouse.”

Until then, the agency says same-sex couples can use the current tax forms with the understanding that a married household may have two “husbands” or two “wives” under the new definition of marriage in the state.

According to a notice issued October 14, the tax department has revised its definitions of “spouse,” “husband,” and “wife” to include individuals who are “married” to a person of the same sex.

“The term ‘marriage’ includes marriage between individuals of the same sex, lawfully married under the law of any domestic or foreign jurisdiction having legal authority to sanction marriages,” the notice read. “Beginning with Tax Year 2014, West Virginia Personal Income Tax returns reflecting a married status that are filed by lawfully married individuals will be processed without regard to the gender or sexual orientation of the married partners.”

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Department spokeswoman Lalena Price told the Charleston Daily Mail that the state is in the process of updating next year’s tax materials to drop all reference to “husbands” and “wives” and update the language to be more reflective of the new legal landscape. 

“We’ve updated all of our language in our materials,” Price said. “When we do have our updated materials for the next tax filing season, you will not see terms like husband and wife.”

Additionally, Price said that same-sex couples who “married” elsewhere prior to the legal redefinition of marriage in West Virginia may now file amended tax returns for up to the last three years to reflect their “married” status.

“If they were legally married in another state up to three years ago and they want to update and file amended returns, they can certainly do that,” said Price.

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