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Canadian Tax and
Financial Information
Equivalent to Spouse

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Filing Your Return
Disabilities -> Eligible Dependant
Income Tax Act s. 118(1)B(b), s. 118(1)(e) s. 118(4), s. 251(2) s. 251(6)

Line 305 Eligible Dependant

An equivalent to spouse tax credit may be claimed for a dependent relative

An individual may claim, under certain circumstances, the "amount for an eligible dependant" (equivalent to spouse) tax credit for a dependent child, or other dependent relatives, on line 305 of the tax return.  The amount of this federal non-refundable tax credit is $11,474 for 2016 ($11,327 for 2015), the same as the spousal amount tax credit.  See the tables of non-refundable tax credits for the provincial amounts and tax rates of this tax credit.

The equivalent to spouse tax credit

bullet is reduced by income earned by the dependant
bullet can be claimed by only one person for the dependant

This tax credit cannot be claimed if

bullet you are claiming the spousal amount tax credit (line 303).
bullet the claim is for a child for whom you were required to make support payments during the year.  However, if you and your spouse were separated for only part of the year due to a breakdown in your relationship, you can still claim this tax credit, as long as you do not claim any support amounts paid to your spouse, and as long as the child was under 18, or mentally or physically impaired, during the period of separation.

Note that the credit cannot be claimed if someone else in your household is claiming this tax credit. Each household is allowed only one claim for this amount.  This is from s. 118(4)(b) of the Income Tax Act, where it states that not more than one individual is entitled to the equivalent to spouse tax credit "in respect of the same person or the same domestic establishment and where two or more individuals otherwise entitled to such a deduction fail to agree as to the individual by whom the deduction may be made, no such deduction for the year shall be allowed to either or any of them".

There is a Tax Court Case in support of the above, Cheung v. The Queen, 2010 TCC 297.  Two brothers (the appellants) lived together in a single family home with their spouses, children, parents and sister.  Each of the brothers and their sister claimed a credit for their own children.  This was when the child tax credit was available, but the rules are the same for the eligible dependant credit.  Had they agreed on who could claim the tax credit, one of them could have claimed it.  However, since they failed to agree on which one of them could claim the tax credit, the decision was that none of them was allowed to claim it.  The fact that the taxpayers were related had no bearing on the case.  The outcome would have been the same for two or more unrelated parents sharing a home.  However, if each of the taxpayers and their children had separate suites or apartments in the home, they each would have been able to claim the tax credit for their children.

You may claim this credit if, at any time in the year:

bullet you supported a dependant, and lived with the dependant in a home that you maintained, and
bullet you are unmarried and do not live in a common-law partnership, or
bullet you are married or in a common-law partnership, but do not live with your spouse, do not support your spouse, and are not supported by your spouse.

and if, at that time (when the above conditions are true), the dependant is

bullet except in the case of your child, resident in Canada,
bullet your parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister by blood, marriage, common-law partnership or adoption, and
bullet except in the case of your parent or grandparent, either under 18 years of age, or dependent due to mental or physical infirmity.

The situation of your child not being resident in Canada but qualifying for the equivalent to spouse tax credit may occur, for instance, if you are a deemed resident.

In the case of shared custody, if both parents are required to make support payments for a child, then one parent can claim the amount for an eligible dependant for the child, as long as both parents paying support agree that this person will make the claim.

If your spouse has died during the year and you are not claiming a spousal tax credit, the equivalent to spouse credit can be claimed for a dependent relative if all the above conditions are met.  For a dependent child who turns 18 during the year and is not mentally or physically impaired, to meet the conditions, the child would have to be 17 at the time of the death of the spouse.

If the dependant is dependent on the individual by reason of mental or physical infirmity, the family caregiver amount will increase the eligible dependant amount by $2,121 for 2016 ($2,093 for 2015).

The Canadian Tax Calculator includes the ability to claim the equivalent to spouse tax credit for a dependent child or other eligible dependant.

Additional Amount re Eligible Dependant

Income Tax Act s. 118(1)(e), s. 118(4)(c), s. 118(1)(c.1), s. 118(1)(d)

When a taxpayer is entitled to claim the eligible dependant amount, they are not entitled, according to s. 118(4)(c) of the Income Tax Act, to claim either the line 315 caregiver amount tax credit or the line 306 amount for infirm dependant over age 18 for that dependant.  However, they can claim the amount by which the claim under line 306 or line 315 exceeds the eligible dependant amount.

Example:

bullet

eligible dependant is senior parent of the taxpayer, not infirm, taxpayer is not claiming the spousal amount tax credit

bullet

eligible dependant has income of $10,000, so for line 305 $11,474 - 10,000 = $1,474 can be claimed for 2016

bullet

the caregiver amount of $4,667 is not reduced until 2016 income of the dependant exceeds $15,940, so if it could be claimed, the amount of $4,667 could be claimed

bullet

the additional amount = $4,667 less $1,474 = $3,193, so the total that can be claimed is $4,667.

Tax Court Case Eligible Dependant

A 2013 Tax Court of Canada case allowed a taxpayer to claim the eligible dependant tax credit for her mother.  Her mother and father both resided with her, and her father had claimed a spousal tax credit for the mother for the years in question.  However, a request had been made to reverse the claiming of the spousal credit, although the reversal (which was not done by CRA) had no effect on taxes payable for the father.  The judge indicated that because the spousal credit did not reduce taxes payable, it was not actually "deducted" by the father, and the claim by the taxpayer was allowed. See Ullah v. The Queen 2013 TCC 387.

Other tax credits that may be available for someone living with you:

bullet Family Caregiver Amount Tax Credit (Line 367) - for infirm dependent children under 18 at the end of the tax year.
bullet Amount for infirm dependants age 18 or older (Line 306)
bullet Caregiver Amount Tax Credit (Line 315) - this tax credit may be available if a parent or grandparent lives with you, even if they are not infirm, and not your dependant, or if another dependent relative lives with you.
bulletMedical expense tax credit for other eligible dependants (Line 331)
bullet Disability tax credit (Line 318)

See also:

bullet tables of non-refundable tax credits for the amount of this tax credit federally and provincially.
bulletlinks to all information on TaxTips.ca related to persons with disabilities.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Resources

bullet Line 305 - Amount for an eligible dependant
bullet IT-513R Personal Tax Credits
bulletShared custody and the amount for an eligible dependant
bulletP102 Support Payments - includes form T1158, registration of family support payments

 

Revised: September 19, 2016

 

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