Employers and participants alike have been anxiously waiting for further guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on how marriages of same-sex couples will be treated for purposes of qualified retirement plans.

On April 5, 2014, the IRS issued Notice 2014-19 containing rules on plan amendments and retroactive application of the Supreme Court’s United States v. Windsor decision to retirement plans and their treatment of marriages of same-sex couples.

There are two parts to Notice 2014-19. The first part describes how qualified retirement plans should treat the marriages of same-sex couples following Windsor. The Windsor decision, which the Court issued on June 26, 2013, struck down as unconstitutional section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which precluded married same-sex couples from being treated as married under federal law. The second part of the guidance is in a question-and-answer format that addresses targeted plan operation and amendment issues.