Complete Tax Guide for Newly Married Couples

Complete Tax Guide for Newly Married Couples

April 24, 2020

Getting married or starting a common-law relationship makes for some big adjustments in your lifestyle. Filing taxes together for the first time means some changes, too, and this complete tax guide for newly married couples will answer all of your questions!

Your tax situation changes with your marital status. If there are no dependents, and you both make about the same amount of income, the changes are minimal. If one of you has a lower income or several tax credits to claim, the changes are bound to be pleasant.



The Spousal Amount

The spousal amount, a non-refundable tax credit, is for if you support your spouse during the year and their net income is less than $12,069 (2019). You receive the difference between their income and $12,069.

Transferable credits – a tax guide for newly married couples

Now that you are married, or common-law, you can transfer credits if you or your spouse don’t use the total amounts of any of these tax credits:

You transfer unused portions of these amounts to your return at line 32600.

For example, if you attend university and have a comparatively low income, you may find that all of your tuition credits aren’t necessary for you this year. Any leftover credits can carry forward, or you can transfer them to your spouse. Your spouse could get up to $5,000 in tax credits to lower their tax bill.

If either of you purchased a house this tax year, check to see if you qualify for the homebuyer’s credit of $5,000. Both of you must not have lived in a home you own for four years before buying the new house.

Either you or your partner can claim:

How to combine credits

Now that you share expenses, you can combine some of those expenses, so one of you claims the total. You can combine credits like:

  • Medical expenses for you, your spouse, and any children (born 1998 or later) See line 33099
  • Medical expenses for dependents you support like parents or grandparents. See line 33199
  • Charitable donations. See line 34900. If you both have charitable donations, you can choose to have one of you claim the combined total. Donations over $200 give bigger deductions, so combining the credits is often a significant saving.

Pension splitting

If the spouse with an eligible pension is the higher earner, pension splitting often leads to tax savings for the couple. Even though no money changes hands, the higher-earning spouse designates part of the pension income to the lower-earning spouse.

Contributing to both Registered Retirement Savings Plans

Contributions to your spouse’s RRSP are deductible from your taxable income. If you have a higher income, taxed at a higher rate, this can reduce your current year’s taxes. But any contributions made to their RRSP reduce your deduction limit.

The total deduction for contributions to both RRSPs can’t be more than your deduction limit. If you can’t contribute any more to your RRSP because of your age, you can add to your spouse’s RRSP until they turn 71.

Do newly married couples file “joint” or “coupled” tax returns?

No. It is a common misconception that being together means filing a “joint” tax return. In Canada, everyone files an individual return, regardless of marital status. Everyone submits their own tax return to the CRA.

“Coupled” returns mean each spouse files an individual return, but they are prepared together. If you have any tax credits to combine or income to split, a coupled return is the best way to go.

CloudTax covers all of the options in this tax guide for newly married couples. Discover how to reduce your taxes and get the biggest possible refund with CloudTax this year.

Nimalan Balachandran is the Founder & CEO of CloudTax, an income tax filing platform, certified by the Canada Revenue Agency, that allows simple tax filers to file their taxes from home. He was a former employee at the Canada Revenue Agency, and has been in the tax preparation industry for over 10 years. His goal was to bring his passion for technology and assisting Canadians in minimizing their taxes together, by building new software that allows Canadian residents to file simple taxes on their own. Along with his background in accounting, finance, artificial intelligence & business strategy from Seneca College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nimalan has also worked as a Financial Advisor at Sun Life Financials. Nimalan also co-founded a not-for-profit organization, ATI Foundation, serving individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities in the Greater Toronto Area.


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