Obergefell and Tax-Exempt Status for Religious Institutions

December 30, 2016
The question presented is whether the Internal Revenue Service’s response to an inquiry from Attorney General Pruitt of Oklahoma regarding whether there would be any impact on tax-exemption standards in light of the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges was “right.” Specifically, Attorney General Pruitt’s letter had asked IRS Commissioner Koskinen in a July 30, 2015 letter whether Obergefell “would have an effect on the IRS’s administration of the tax laws regarding tax-exempt organizations.” Presumably Attorney General Pruitt’s inquiry was motivated by his concern over one particular exchange that Justice Alito had with Solicitor General Verrilli during the oral argument in Obergefell. Justice Alito had asked the Solicitor General about the impact that a decision in favor of the plaintiff would have on the tax-exempt status of religious institutions that would not recognize same-sex marriage.