Taxation of common-law couples

Common-law couples are treated the same way as legally married couples for all provisions of the Income Tax Act. A common-law partner is defined as a person who has lived with you in a conjugal relationship throughout the 12-month period that ends at that time, or who is the natural or adoptive parent of your child. A common-law partner also includes a same-sex partner. As a result, common-law couples are

  • able to claim the married credit,
  • permitted to contribute to spousal RRSPs,
  • able to benefit from the pension income-splitting rules (see topic 71),
  • required to combine their incomes to determine entitlement to the GST credit and the child tax benefit,
  • subject to the income attribution rules,
  • allowed to transfer assets to a surviving partner on a tax-deferred basis upon the death of the other partner, and
  • subject to all other income tax provisions that apply to married persons.