Preparing individual and spousal tax returns

According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), both you and your spouse or common-law partner must file your own tax returns. You have the option, however, to prepare your returns separately or together (as a coupled return).

Note: Once you’ve decided to file your return a certain way (either as a coupled or uncoupled return), you can’t change your selection in H&R Block’s tax software. Instead, you would both have to start new returns.

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Why should I prepare my tax return with my spouse?

Preparing your return with your spouse typically maximizes your tax savings and minimizes the amount of taxes you might owe. H&R Block’s tax software makes it easy, and calculates the best way to apply the following types of credits between both returns: 

  • Age amount
  • Disability amounts
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) amounts
  • Charitable donations
  • Medical expenses
  • Tuition amounts
  • Lifelong learning plan amounts
  • Dependant amounts
  • Pension income amount*
  • First-time home buyers’ credit
  • Provincial tax credits

* You can only split pension income if you and your partner are filing a coupled return.

What if I really want to prepare my return on my own?

Even if you prepare your return on your own, you’ll still need to enter information from your spouse’s return into yours, and vice versa. This increases the amount of time you’ll spend completing your return, and it could lead to data entry errors.

Do I ever NEED to prepare separate returns?

Yes – if you and your spouse live in different provinces, or if your spouse doesn’t live in Canada, you would need to complete separate returns.

Preparing your returns together is also much easier. When preparing separate returns, you’ll still need to enter information from your spouse’s return into yours and vice versa. This not only increases the amount of time you’ll each spend completing your returns, it might also lead to an increased number of data entry errors.

Only in very rare situations is it advisable to prepare your returns separately. For example, if you and your spouse live in different provinces, or if your spouse doesn’t live in Canada you would need to complete separate returns.

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