IRS to recognize all gay marriages, regardless of state
WASHINGTON — All legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether the state where they live recognizes the marriage, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.
The federal rules change is one of many stemming from the landmark Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. That ruling found that same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits, but left open the question of how the federal government would actually administer those benefits.
“Imagine a pair of women who marry in Albany and then move to Alabama,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote at the time of the decision. “May they file a joint federal income tax return? Does the answer turn on where they were married or where they live?”
As of the 2013 tax year, same-sex spouses cannot file federal tax returns as if they were single. Instead, they will have to opt for filing as “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” The location of their marriage — as long as it is legal — or residence does not matter: a same-sex couple who marry in Albany and move to Alabama will be treated the same as a same-sex couple who marry and live in Massachusetts.
—Annie Lowrey, The New York Times
Meeting to avert fiscal crisis ends with no set path forward
WASHINGTON — A White House meeting with Senate Republicans to try to find a path forward on deficit reduction and avert a fiscal crisis in the fall ended Thursday with both sides saying the talks had proven fruitless and might not continue.
The meeting between senior White House aides, including White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and eight senators ended with no date set for the next meeting and blunt talk of failure. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., expressed concern that carrying on the dialogue would give a false impression of progress. “This is just not going to happen at this time,” he said. “There’s no point in continuing to act as if these discussions are leading some place.”
With the next fiscal showdown in Washington just weeks away, the failure of the Senate-White House talks will shift attention toward congressional leaders who have yet to engage in detailed talks to avert a political and possibly an economic disaster.
On Oct. 1, much of the government will run out of authority to spend money unless Congress acts to approve at least a stopgap spending measure. Then by mid-October, the Treasury will no longer be able to borrow money to finance the government unless lawmakers approve an increase in the statutory debt ceiling.
White House officials said Thursday that they never expected the Senate talks to defuse those twin crises. But the talks did grow out of a high-profile “charm offensive” by President Barack Obama earlier this year aimed at wooing Senate Republicans to a deficit deal and isolating more intransigent House Republicans.
“We appreciated the meeting, which continued the series of candid — and helpful — exchanges,” a White House official said.
—Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times
NFL agrees to settle concussion suit for $765 million
When news circulated Thursday that the NFL had agreed to pay $765 million to settle a concussion lawsuit, several of the more than 4,500 retired players involved in the suit and their family members offered a mostly positive reaction. Mary Ann Easterling, the widow of the former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, called the settlement “tremendous” and “everything that I’ve wanted.”
Ray Easterling committed suicide in 2012 and an autopsy revealed he had a degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is known at CTE and has become widely associated with athletes who have absorbed frequent hits to the head.
The terms of the settlement, which still needs to be approved by Judge Anita B. Brody of U.S. District Court, would include $675 million for players and families of players who suffered a cognitive injury, as well as $75 million for medical examinations and $10 million for the establishment of a research fund. The NFL acknowledged no wrongdoing in its handling of head injuries. But players who have neurological issues, and their families, will receive money to offset large medical bills.
—Zach Schonbrun, The New York Times
Nasdaq blames a surge of data for 3-hour trading halt
The Nasdaq OMX Group on Thursday attributed last week’s three-hour trading halt a surge of data that overwhelmed its server, in the stock market operator’s most detailed accounting yet of the market outage.
In a statement, the company highlighted more than 20 attempts by Arca, one of the exchanges run by NYSE Euronext, to connect and then disconnect to the system that provides prices for recent trades in Nasdaq stocks. Those were accompanied by what Nasdaq described as a stream of quotes for inaccurate symbols from Arca, which Nasdaq’s system was forced to reject.
The two incidents together inundated Nasdaq’s system with more than twice the data that it was designed to handle.
A flaw in Nasdaq’s own server then emerged that essentially led to the failure of the backup system to kick in, forcing to shut down the system. At 12:14 p.m., the exchange sent a notice to traders notifying them of the complete market halt.
“They obviously had issues, and it caused an event,” Robert Greifeld, Nasdaq’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview Thursday, referring to the NYSE exchange. “We obviously had issues, we should be able to handle that. We were supposed to be able to fail over, and we did not.” He added that Nasdaq was not blaming Arca for the outage. But he said Nasdaq was accepting responsibility for its share of problems while also pointing to what he described as broader issues affecting the stock market industry. A NYSE Euronext spokesman declined to comment.
—Michael J. De La Merced, The New York Times