Choosing between the spousal amount and eligible dependant amount

Depending on your family situation and if your marital status changed in the year, you may be faced with a decision to choose between claiming the spouse or common-law partner amount or the amount for an eligible dependant on your tax return. You cannot claim both amounts on your return for the year.

The following describes both amounts and when they can be claimed:

 

Spouse or common-law partner amount

This amount can be claimed if at any time during the year, you supported your spouse or common-law partner and his or her net income for the year was less than $11,327.

If you were living with your spouse or common-law partner on December 31, then use his or her net income for the whole year to calculate the spouse or common-law partner amount.

If you separated in the year because of a breakdown in your relationship and were not back together on December 31, then use his or her net income before the separation.

Both you and your spouse or common-law partner cannot claim this amount for each other.

 

Amount for an eligible dependant

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says…

You may be able to claim this amount if at any time in the year you met all of the following conditions at once:

  • You did not have a spouse or common-law partner or, if you did, you were not living with, supporting, or being supported by that person.
  • You supported a dependant in 2015.
  • You lived with the dependant (in most cases in Canada) in a home you maintained. You cannot claim this amount for a person who was only visiting you.

In addition, at the time you met the above conditions, the dependant must also have been either:

  • your parent or grandparent by blood, marriage, common-law partnership, or adoption; or
  • your child, grandchild, brother, or sister, by blood, marriage, common-law partnership, or adoption and under18 years of age or had an impairment in physical or mental functions.

 

Even if you met all of the conditions above, you may not be able to claim the amount if any of the following situations applied:

  • You or someone else is claiming the spouse or common-law partner amount for the dependant;
  • The dependant is your common-law partner;
  • Another person in your household is claiming the dependant (only one person in a household can make this claim even if there is more than one dependant in the house);
  • The claim is for a child for whom you made support payments in the year.

If you are supporting an eligible dependant and your marital status changed during the year from married or common-law to single, you can:

  • Claim the spouse or common-law partner amount if your partner’s net income was less than $11, 327 (the claim will be reduced by the net income amount before your separation.); or
  • Claim the amount for an eligible dependant.

The amount you can claim in both cases is reduced by the net income of the person you are claiming. If your eligible dependant did not have income for the year, it may be beneficial for you to claim an amount for the eligible dependant instead of the spouse or common-law partner amount.

Note: If you have a spouse or common-law partner or an eligible dependant with a physical or mental impairment, you may qualify for the family caregiver amount as well. Click this link for more information on the family caregiver amount.

 

Where can I learn more?