Marriage and Taxation

If you get married or become common-law partners with another person, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) needs to notified. Although you do not file your taxes together, your relationship status changes how you file, and can affect your eligibility for certain benefits, deductions and credits.

Notifying the CRA

You can change your marital status using the CRA’s online My Account service. You can also notify the CRA over the phone at 1-800-387-1193, or through the mail by sending Form RC65 to your nearest tax centre. If you changed your last name, remember to notify the CRA of this, as well. Currently, you can only change your last name over the phone at 1-800-959-8281.

Changes to Benefits

If you receive the Canada Child Benefit, GST/HST credit or Working Income Tax Benefit advance payments, you need to notify the CRA of your marriage by the last day of the month after your wedding. As these benefits are based on family income, they may change following your marriage.

Spouse or Common-Law Partner Amounts

If you support your new spouse and he earns less than $11,809 (in 2018), you can claim the spouse or common-law partner amount. This tax credit offsets your taxes owed, but cannot alone produce a refund.

In some cases, you can also transfer amounts earned between you and your spouse or common-law partner.

Transferring Amounts

If you are a full-time student, you can use the tuition amount to reduce your taxes owed. However, if you do not owe any tax, you can transfer this amount to your spouse or common-law partner to help offset his tax bill.

Additional amounts you may be able to transfer include the age amount, the pension income amount, and the disability amount.

Medical Expenses

The CRA allows you to deduct a portion of your medical expenses equal to the lesser of either three percent of your income or $2,302 (2018). However, when you are married, you can combine your and your spouse or common-law partner’s medical expenses. By pooling your expenses, you reach this threshold faster.

Additionally, you can claim your combined expenses on the tax return of the higher earning spouse to help offset the tax he owes. Although the three percent of income threshold is less for the lower income spouse, the credit may be more useful to the higher earning spouse, especially if the lower earner owes no tax. You can also include the medical expenses of your children or your spouse’s children in this formula.

If you are married and have deductions for charitable contributions, you can calculate them in a similar way.

Sharing Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) Contributions

If only one of you is employed, the working spouse or common-law partner should consider contributing to the stay-at-home person’s RRSP. Although you cannot contribute more than your annual deduction limit, you can continue to contribute even if you are past retirement age, as long as your spouse is young enough to still be contributing.