Filing Your Return -> Spouse or Common-Law Partner Amount
Line 30300 Spouse or Common-Law Partner Amount (Spousal Amount)
Note: Before tax year 2019, line 30300 was line 303.
Income Tax Act s. 118(1)B(a), s. 251(2) s. 251(6)
If, at any time in the year, you supported your spouse or common-law partner and his or her net income (line 23600, line 236 prior to 2019) is less than a maximum of up to $13,229 for 2020 (see revision below) ($13,808 for 2021), you can claim all or a portion of the spousal amount of the maximum $13,229 ($13,808 for 2021). See the tables of non-refundable tax credits for the provincial amounts and tax rates of this tax credit, which also show the spousal amounts for each province and territory. The amount is reduced by any net income of the spouse. See Nova Scotia Spousal Amount for an additional tax credit for 2018 and later years.
What does "supported your spouse" mean? Generally, the higher-income spouse is considered to be supporting the lower-income spouse, so can claim the spousal amount. However, the credit is reduced by the income of the lower-income spouse.
The spousal amount
When completing your tax return, it is necessary to indicate if you have a spouse or common-law partner. If you are filing using tax software and not doing your returns together, you will indicate the amount of the spouse's net income on your return. If your spouse has no income, they should still file a tax return to be eligible for certain benefits.
You have a spouse if you are legally married. See the definition of common-law partner.
Where you and your spouse are living apart at the end of the year because of a breakdown in the relationship, and the breakdown occurred during the year, only the income for the period of the year prior to the breakdown is included in income for the calculation of the spousal amount tax credit. In all other cases, the income of the spouse for the entire taxation year must be used in calculating the tax credit.
If you separated during the year due to a breakdown in your relationship, and you were separated for only part of the year, you can claim either:
You cannot claim both of these amounts.
If you are claiming the spousal amount, the income you report for your spouse will be their net income prior to the separation.
If you and your spouse have a dependent child, only one of you can make an eligible dependant claim for the child. If you claim a spousal amount, or support payments for the child, you are not able to claim an eligible dependant amount.
If the spouse or common-law partner is dependent on the individual by reason of mental or physical infirmity, the Canada caregiver amount will increase the spousal amount by $2,273 for 2020 ($2,295 for 2021). When the family caregiver amount is claimed, the income threshold for the dependant is increased to a maximum of up to $15,502 for 2020 ($16,103 for 2021).
Revision to spousal amount for the 2020 and subsequent taxation years
On December 9, 2019, the federal government presented legislative proposals that would provide an additional amount for the basic personal amount (BPA), and the spousal and eligible dependant (equivalent to spouse) amounts for 2020 and subsequent taxation years. See the article on the BPA for the new calculation. Yukon tabled legislation to mirror the federal amounts. The 2020 and subsequent years spousal amount calculation will depend on the taxpayer's basic personal amount as well as the spouse's net income. The spousal amount tax credit is:
You can still claim this credit if you and your spouse were involuntarily separated, or living apart for reasons other than a breakdown in your relationship. An involuntary separation would include one spouse being away for work, school, health reasons, or incarceration.
If you and your spouse or common-law partner 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.
ITA s. 82(3)
A taxpayer who is entitled to the spousal tax credit for his/her spouse or common-law partner may elect to include all of the spouse's dividends from taxable Canadian corporations in his/her income. This option is only available if doing so will allow the taxpayer to claim, or increase the claim, for the spousal tax credit. See our article on the Spousal Dividend Transfer. The election is done simply by including the spouse's dividends on the taxpayer's tax return instead of on the spouse's tax return.
See the information for Line 12000 (line 120 prior to 2019) in the General Income Tax Guide.
You can also claim this credit if your spouse or common-law partner is a non-resident of Canada, if you are not living apart due to a breakdown in your relationship. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) IT513R Personal Tax Credits (archived) indicates that it is necessary that the non-resident person be supported by or be dependent on you for support. If the non-resident spouse has enough income or assistance for a reasonable standard of living in the country in which they live, they are not considered to be supported by you or to be dependent on you for support. Gifts which merely enhance or supplement the already adequate lifestyle of the non-resident person do not constitute support.
To determine if the non-resident spouse is being supported by you, the CRA will consider:
To support a spousal tax credit claim for a non-resident spouse, you must provide with your income tax return proof of the amounts contributed as support. This would usually include receipts for post office or bank money orders, cancelled cheques that were payable to and negotiated by the spouse, or receipts from private agencies established for the purpose of transferring money or goods to residents of other countries.
To determine if the non-resident spouse has to pay tax in Canada, see our article on Who pays tax in Canada?
If you are filing your tax return using tax software and you have a non-resident spouse, this should not be a problem. You will indicate on your return that you are married, but do not try to "couple" your return with your spouse's return. This can normally only be done if you both reside in the same province. If your non-resident spouse has to file a Canadian tax return, it will have to be done separately. When the returns are not coupled, there is no need to enter a social insurance number (SIN) for the spouse.
Canadian Tax Calculator - includes the calculation of the spousal tax credit.
Other tax credits that may be available for someone living with you:
Canada caregiver amount tax credit - federal, BC, ON, YT - replaces old caregiver credits for 2017 and later years.
Caregiver amount tax credit (provincial/territorial except BC, ON, YT) - 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. This was the federal/provincial/territorial credit prior to 2017.
Medical expense tax credit for other eligible dependents (Line 33199 (line 331 prior to 2019)
Disability tax credit (Line 31800, line 318 prior to 2019)
See also:Tables of non-refundable tax credits for the amount of this tax credit federally and provincially.
Links to all information on TaxTips.ca related to persons with disabilities.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) ResourcesLine 30300 (line 303 prior to 2019) - Spousal amount
Revised: April 27, 2021
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