Determining your marital status
Your marital status is determined for the entire tax year on December 31. Make sure to claim it correctly or you may receive credits that you will then have to pay back.
One of the most common questions we get asked involves marital status, as people try to figure out their situation. Your marital status is used to determine your tax benefits and credits, so claiming it correctly is important. And you cannot choose the status that provides the most tax savings. You need to follow the rules.
Here is a quick guide to help you structure your claim.
Living together: If you have lived together for 12 continuous months, you are considered common-law for tax purposes. If you have children together, you are considered common-law as soon as you begin living together.
Living together, separate bank accounts: The same common-law rules apply. The Canada Revenue Agency does not review whether or not you keep your financial accounts jointly or individually.
Married: You are considered married for tax purposes if you were joined in a recognized civil or religious ceremony in Canada or in a different country of origin. Even if your spouse lives in another country, you should claim married on your return.
Married, recently separated: Once you are married, you can never be considered single on your tax return again. You will file as separated.
Common-law, recently separated: You are required to be separated for 90 days before you are considered officially apart, if you were in a common-law relationship.
Married, separated, in a new relationship: The same common-law rules apply for your new relationship. For tax purposes, it is possible to be separated from someone else but common-law with your new partner.
Widowed: If you have lost your spouse in 2011, you should claim your status as widow or widower.
If your marital status changed during the year, ensure that you notify the Canada Revenue Agency by submitting a RC65 Form Change of Marital Status.
Senior tax pro and national spokesperson