Divorce can be complicated, particularly regarding issues revolving around spousal support. When a couple has had an amicable separation or divorce, they may decide to sort out their issues without going to court or without getting a family lawyer Vancouver involved. However, this is often a huge mistake because there are tax benefits and tax consequences of spousal support that most people are not aware of.
Understanding Spousal Support
Also known as alimony, spousal support is a court-ordered amount of money that one spouse pays to the other. The money is paid periodically following a marriage dissolution or the dissolution of a common-law union. Spousal support is not guaranteed immediately following the dissolution of the marriage. The receiving spouse must demonstrate an entitlement or a need for support due to the financial losses or other financial implications resulting from the dissolution of the marriage.
Usually, the court outlines the period or duration of spousal support payments. However, this duration is subject to change. For example, do you still have to pay spousal support if your spouse refuses to work? If your spouse is unemployed due to a valid reason like disability or illness, the court may require you to continue paying child support. However, if your spouse doesn’t have a good reason to be out of work, you can dispute the spousal support payments.
If you are the payer, you can deduct alimony payments from your taxable income. You might be wondering whether you can also deduct child support payments from your taxable income. No, child support payments have no tax implications; they are tax-free. If you are a recipient of child support payments, you don’t have to disclose the money as income for tax purposes.
Is Spousal Support Taxable in Canada?
Who pays the tax on spousal support in Canada? When you receive spousal support, the law requires you to disclose it as income when filing your taxes. You should not report any payments from your spouse as taxable income before the payments are defined and agreed upon as taxable income.
If you are a monthly spousal support recipient, you have to pay tax on the total amount received every year. The payments qualify as taxable income and need to be listed as such on your tax returns. If the spousal support was granted following a court ruling, you could claim a tax break on the legal fees you used up on the case.
For spousal support to be considered for tax purposes, the payments must be made regularly or on a periodic basis. The spousal support payments must also be paid directly to the receiving spouse without involving third parties. If spousal support is made as a lump sum, it is not considered taxable income. For example, if a spouse makes a one-time transfer to the receiving spouse, especially in the case of an amicable divorce, this amount will not be considered for tax purposes. You are also not eligible to claim a tax deduction on the legal fees you spent in getting the lumpsum payment.
Are Spousal Support Payments Tax Deductible in Canada?
If you pay spousal support on a monthly basis, you are eligible for an income tax deduction on the total amount you pay every year. A one-time lump sum payment is not eligible for a tax deduction. In addition, you cannot claim tax deductions on the money spent defending a spousal support claim in court.
How much tax do I pay on spousal support in Canada? For tax purposes, only the amounts that have been paid under a written agreement or a court order are considered. Any amount exceeding what is outlined in the agreement, including gifts and pocket money, is not considered.
Not All Payments to an Ex-Spouse Count as Spousal Support
Most people often wonder whether all payments made to cater for an ex-spouse’s expenses qualify as spousal support. The answer is no. For any payment made to an ex-spouse to count as spousal support, it must be supported by a written agreement or an order from the judge. If you don’t have a written agreement, any amount you pay to your spouse will not be deducted as spousal support from your income tax. Therefore, you will not enjoy any tax benefits of spousal support. On the other hand, the receiving spouse is not required to report the money as income for tax purposes.
Whether Payments Made in the Past Can Be Categorized as Spousal Support
The payments made in the past can count as spousal support provided you and your ex-spouse sign a written agreement, or there is a court order outlining that the money sent to your ex-spouse in the previous years is spousal support. Then, the CRA will deduct these payments from your income. However, you should make a request in writing, requesting the CRA to re-calculate your taxes. This request could result in significant tax refunds.
Deducting Legal Fees from Your Income
If you hire a lawyer to help you obtain child support, you can deduct the legal fees incurred from your income when filing tax returns. However, if you incurred legal fees when trying to reduce or eliminate child support payments, you cannot deduct these expenses from your income when filing taxes.
The set legal structure and tax implications of spousal support can be intricate. Looking for dedicated legal counsel to lead you through the process is always best. For reliable legal guidance, contact Gertsoyg & Company.