In adhering to a constitutionally derived recognition of the states within the federal system, Congress has consistently deferred to the states in the regulation of marriage, family life and domestic affairs. In the application of the federal tax laws, Congress has demonstrated its respect for the individual states by the enactment of § 152(b)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code. This 1958 enactment denies a taxpayer an exemption for a dependent if the relationship between the claimed dependent and the taxpayer violates local law. In Ensminger v. Commissioner the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a decision by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that denied a dependency exemption for a live-in lover, because the relationship between the North Carolina taxpayer and his claimed dependent violated state law. This note will review the decision in Ensminger and will explore its implications.



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