After a separation, you may be eligible to claim new credits that were not available to you while you were part of a couple. Because you are no longer claiming a spousal credit, you may qualify for another type of credit if you have eligible dependants living in your household.
Spousal Credit vs. Eligible Dependant Credit
A spousal credit is exactly what the name implies. It is a credit you claim while having a spouse, either married or common-law.
If you are now single, you may still be entitled to a similar credit. Formerly known as the Equivalent to Spouse Amount, the Eligible Dependant credit is available to single taxpayers who supported a dependant during the tax year. The claim is not limited to just your minor children. Other relatives may qualify. Other relatives can include minors such as your grandchild, brother or sister. Grandparents and parents can also be considered eligible dependants.
Qualifying for the Credit
- You can claim the Eligible Dependant credit if, at any time during the year, you did not have a spouse or common-law partner, or if you did, you were not living with or supporting that person.
- Additionally, you must have been living with and supporting the dependant in a home you maintained.
The Eligible Dependant credit is reduced by the dependant’s net income. For example, if you are making a claim for your grandfather who lived with you and was supported by you, any pension amounts or other income he received during the year will be deducted from the claim. If more than one person qualifies as your dependant, choosing the dependant with the lower net income can maximize your deduction.
Only one person in a household may make an Eligible Dependant claim even if there is more than one dependant in the household. This is important to remember especially in multi-generation households.
- If anyone is claiming a spousal amount for your dependant, you cannot claim them as an Eligible Dependant credit on your tax return.
- You cannot claim both the Eligible Dependant amount and the amount for Infirm dependants for the same person.
However, you can claim both the Eligible Dependant credit and the Family Caregiver credit if applicable.
If you and your former spouse share custody of your minor child, special rules apply. You must decide which one of you will make the claim as the credit cannot be split. In many cases, parents alternate yearly which one of them will take the deduction.
- Be aware that if you can’t agree on who will claim the amount, then neither of you is allowed to claim it.
- If you made support payments during the tax year for the child, in most cases you are not allowed to claim that child for the Eligible Dependant credit.