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Common law separation and subsequent reconciliation

I have a client couple who are common law. They separated Sept.12/20 and reconciled in July, 2021. Since they did not reconcile within 90 days, must I uncouple them and file as separated for 2020? Then for 2021, their status will again change from separated to common law. I’m not concerned about getting the best refund, I just want it done right the first time. There is also the effects on GST credits and the CCB.

You have said that these persons are not married.

Assuming these people are childless, it would seem that their status from 12 September 2020 is “separated”.

For 2021 tax year, it would seem that they should file as “separated” or “single”.

If they do not get married, and if they are still living together by the time July 2022 arrives perhaps they might again have a “common-law partner” for tax purposes commencing dd July 2022 ("…12-month period that ends at that time…"?)…

They would make things simpler if they actually decided on a legal marriage…

They’ve been common law for a number of years. Have 5-year old twins together. Each also has kids from previous relationships. They have a lot of issues. I think my best bet is to uncouple them and file as separated, even though it might increase their refunds. I have to play with the dependent information to avoid them getting GST credits they’re not entitled to. They’re just getting over repaying amounts owed to CRA from years ago.

Ok, so parents looks like it might change 2021 (assuming another separation does not occur)

… Remembering also to calculate their incomes from 01 January 2020 to 12 September 2020 for the purposes of S118 (1) credits, if claimed…

Also, I wonder if they have any documentation regarding custody, support…

Not a damn thing documented. They are basically two of the broken ones. Drift into a relationship, have kids, drift out. Find another partner. Drunken fathers. Low level education. Various health & mental problems. Kids follow in their footsteps. It’s a never-ending cycle for most of these people. It could just as well have been any of us. So, I piece together their tax returns based on what they tell me happened and what I know of them from previous experience. To sit and talk to them, they’re decent enough people, but nothing went their way. I’ll either do their returns for free or a nominal fee. Now that I’ve cleaned up the various dependent information, they’ve lost about $1,000 by being separated. These are the same type of people who pay one of the disability tax credit companies 30% of whatever they get rather than have me print off the forms and send to their doctor. One client paid around $4,000 before I could get to them. I’d have charged about $50.

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Thank goodness for decent people like you who realize that we all do the best we can every day – I have clients like that, I try to help and I treat them with respect.


Years ago, a friend told me “Be nice to the little people on your way up, and maybe they’ll be nice to you on your way down.” I’m 70 and I don’t expect to get to the top, and that’s fine. Thanks for the kind words.

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I’m 81, so maybe in the same place, good with where I am – able to make a living while serving others.


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