Filing your tax returns as a couple.

July 8, 2022

If you recently got married or officially met the criteria of being considered common-law, the change in your status will likely bring some change to the way you file your taxes.

In Canada, tax returns are always filed separately, which means that you and your partner will continue to file individual tax returns. However, if you’re using tax software, you'll have the option of “coupling” the preparation of both returns.

Filing the two individual returns together can help optimize tax returns by identifying ways in which taxes can be reduced and can help maximize the benefits for each couple.

While the process of filing your return doesn’t result in any significant changes whether you’re married or living common-law, here’s what you need to know about filing your taxes with a partner.

The basics.

If you were newly married or in a common-law relationship, you must notify the Canada Revenue Agency of your status change. If you’re a resident of Québec, you must also notify Revenu Québec.

You're expected to communicate this change by the end of the following month after your status changed either through the CRA website, by phone or by mail. For example, if you got married in June 2022, you're expected to notify the CRA and/or Revenu Québec no later than July 31, 2022.

Tax benefits for couples.

It’s important to remember that when you get married or enter into a common-law relationship, the benefit amounts you’re used to receiving may change as they are calculated based on total household income. It could also mean that you become eligible for a number of credits or benefits you previously weren’t qualified for.

Transferring credits.

If you file as a couple, you're entitled to transfer certain credits to your partner, as long as you don’t need them first. These include:

  • Tuition amount
  • Disability amount
  • Age amount
  • Pension income amount

Any amounts transferred from your partner should be calculated on the Schedule 2 and entered on line 32600.

Combining credits.

As a couple, you're allowed to combine some of your expenses so one spouse can claim the total tax credit.

Pooled credits include:

  • Medical expenses for yourself, your spouse, and your children. While medical expenses can get you a tax credit, there is a certain threshold you have to hit – 3% of your net income or $2,421, whichever is lower. In order to qualify for the tax credit, your expenses have to surpass this amount, so combining any medical expense claims as a couple can help you get a bigger medical expense tax credit.
  • Charitable donations. You can choose to designate one person to claim the combined amount of both of your donations to registered charities during the year. Donations totaling over $200 results in a larger deduction, so combining these credits can help maximize the credit you receive.

Tips for couples.

So, who is the best person to claim credits? Is that the same person that should claim deductions?

Generally, the partner with the higher income should maximize deductions to reduce paying taxes at a higher rate. On the other hand, the partner with the lower income should claim credits like the medical expense credits, which are based as a certain dollar amount or percentage of your income.

H&R Block Tax Experts are always here to help you figure out how tax changes will affect your return, and look forward to helping you. Choose from one of four convenient ways to file: File in an Office, Drop-off at an Office, Remote Tax Expert, or Do It Yourself Tax Software.

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