How getting married (or entering into a common-law relationship) impacts your tax situation

If you’re getting married, you no doubt realize you’re about to embark on one of life’s great adventures. While it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement that comes with this major life change, it’s important to understand how getting married can impact your tax situation. Of course, you should inform the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) of your change in marital status as soon as possible, but there’s much more to be aware of.

Changing your name

If you changed your last name to that of your spouse’s, you can inform the CRA by calling 
1-800-959-8281. Unfortunately, the CRA won’t let you change your last name through email or through one of their online services.

Note: You should also be aware that the CRA will not forward your new information to other government organizations (except Elections Canada, but only if you’ve given them permission to do so). This means that you’ll have to contact other government departments directly to make sure your information is up to date.

If you’re a resident of Québec, you can inform Revenu Québec of your name change by calling one of the following general information numbers, depending on where you live:

Québec City                      

418-659-6299

Montréal                           

514-864-6299

Elsewhere in Canada       
or the United States

1-800-267-6299

Claiming your spouse or common-law partner amount

If you supported your spouse or common-law partner at any time during the year and their net income (found on line 236 of their return) was less than $11,635 you can claim this amount on your return.

Contributing to your spouse’s RRSP

This is particularly useful to those wanting to retire before the age of 65 (withdrawn amounts are taxed in the hands of the spouse in the lower tax bracket) or if you’re buying your first home and you both want to take advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan (setting up a spousal RRSP allows both you and your spouse to access RRSP funds when buying a home). Remember, contributions made to your spouse’s RRSP reduces your deduction limit.

Medical expenses

Generally, it’s more beneficial for the spouse with the lower net income to claim your family’s medical expenses, unless their net income is less than the basic personal amount.

Unused tuition amounts

Having a spouse means that you can transfer up to $5,000 of the current year’s unused federal tuition amounts to your spouse to increase their refund or lower their tax owing.

Benefits

It’s important to remember that when you get married or enter into a common-law relationship it could mean that the benefit amounts you’re used to receiving will change. A change in your marital status can impact both your Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and your GST/HST payment amounts.

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