Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers you separated when you live separate and apart from your spouse or common‑law partner for a period of 90 days or more due to a breakdown in your relationship. A separation of less than 90 days is not considered a separation for the purpose of Child and Family Benefits when it comes to divorce and taxes. Once you have been separated for 90 days, the effective day of your separated status is the day you started living separate and apart.
Can we live in the same house and be considered “separated” by CRA?
Even though it may be legally possible to be separated and still live in the same house CRA will likely not consider a separation to have occurred if you continue to live together in the same household. The CRA has different standards when it comes to divorce and taxes as compared to the legal system. An exception to this may occur when separate living quarters are self‑contained in the same household. However, if you reside in the same household and continue to share parenting and financial responsibilities, CRA will not consider a separation to have occurred for the purpose of administering the Canada Child Tax Benefit or Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit legislation.
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If your marital status changes, be sure to let the Canada Revenue Agency know, as this may change the way your divorce and taxes are handled. For example, an update in your marital status may affect the amount of CCB (Canada Child Benefit) and/or GST/HST credit to which you are entitled. If you have registered with their “My Account” service, you can view the marital information CRA has on file for you and you can change your information online. If you are not registered online, inform CRA of your new status and the date of the change in a letter or by completing form RC65, Marital Status Change.
If you or your new spouse or common-law partner have children who are residing with you, CRA will move all the children to the female parent’s account. If you are married or living common-law with a person of the same-sex, one of you will receive the CCB for all the children. To continue receiving the CCB, you and your spouse or common-law partner have to file a tax return every year, even if you have no income to report.
If you did not apply for the GST/HST credit on your tax return and your status is now separated, widowed, or divorced, you can apply now by writing a letter to your tax centre. Once they review your request, they will send you a GST/HST credit notice advising you of the amount of your GST/HST credit.
Gail Vaz-Oxlade: Canadian best-selling financial author, host of TV's 'till Debt Do Us Part, Princess and Money Moron and co-founder of the Common Sense Divorce.
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If your marital status has changed, you will need to file a new Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) Advance Payment application. If you do not file a new WITB Advance Payment application, your WITB advance payments will be stopped until a new application is received. The application deadline date is August 31.
If you receive your benefits by Direct Deposit, please inform CRA if your information needs to be modified. This is to prevent benefits from being deposited into the wrong bank account. If you are not on Direct Deposit, you may want to consider registering.