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Income Tax Act s. 248(1)
Common-Law Partner / Common-Law Spouse
For purposes of the Income Tax Act, a common-law partner is a person (of the same or opposite sex) who lives with the taxpayer in a conjugal (marriage-like) relationship, and
(a) has so cohabited throughout the 12-month period that ends at that time, or
(b) is a parent of a child of whom the taxpayer is a legal parent (by birth or adoption), or
(c) has custody and control of your child (or had custody and control immediately before the child turned 19 years of age) and your child is wholly dependent on that person for support.
Where two people have been living in a marriage-like relationship, it is considered to be continuous unless it has ceased for a period of at least 90 days due to a breakdown in the relationship.
Prior to 2001: Where two people previously lived together in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 continuous months, and then resume living together again in such a relationship, they were immediately considered common-law partners. This changed in 2001 according to Aarbo Fuldauer LLP. We did a search for this information after reviewing the Income Tax Act and seeing nothing to support the immediate common-law partner status after a separation. For 2001 and later years, the 12-month clock starts again once the relationship resumes, if there has been a separation of at least 90 days.
You must report the net income (line 23600, line 236 prior to 2019) of your spouse or common-law partner on your tax return. The combined income of you and your spouse or common-law partner is used to determine entitlement to certain benefits, deductions and tax credits.
Filing Tax Returns When You Have a Spouse - includes information on claiming tax credits and deductions, transferring dividend income, and how to report investment income when you have a spouse. Explains which benefits/credits are determined by combined income.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Resources
Revised: October 26, 2023
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