Same-sex spouses recently won the right to file their federal tax returns under the married filing status. Those who live in states that recognize their marriages will have to file as married taxpayers in 2013, but they have the right to choose whether to amend returns for past years.
In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, talks about whether amending past-year returns is a good move. Dan notes that same-sex spouses will be able to amend up to three years back, for the 2010, 2011, and 2012 tax years. But Dan notes that the true benefit of the provision is that it's optional, so you can run the numbers both ways and see whether you'll benefit from amending or not. Dan gives some general rules, noting that one-income families often benefit from the married joint filing status, while those who have roughly equal incomes might suffer a marriage penalty that makes it advantageous not to amend. Either way, Dan concludes that it's smart to check it both ways to be sure you get the best answer for your finances.