Here’s why the CRA wants to know what’s going on in your bedroom

The state of your marriage or your common-law status is the government’s business as well because of the tax advantages you might get from being married or, conversely, the deductions you might be able to keep by saying you’re still single.

Expanding income splitting for families, something seniors have been able to do with pensions since 2007, could bring the government into your bedroom like never before.

It’s not like the Canada Revenue Agency and the courts haven’t been there previously. Case law on the subject goes back as far as 1980, with one particular court decision often cited because it outlines key criteria for defining what constitutes a common-law or marital relationship.

As judges today wade through the murky waters of whether a couple are truly in a common-law relationship, they are guided by a 1980 court decision.

In a District Court hearing in Thunder Bay, Judge Stanley R. Kurisko set out seven factors that may indicate a couple is in a common-law relationship. His guidance was eventually endorsed by the Supreme Court of Canada.


Did the parties live under the same roof?

What were the sleeping arrangements?

Did anyone else occupy or share the available accommodation?


Did the parties have sexual relations? If not, why not?

Did they maintain an attitude of fidelity to each other?

What were their feelings toward each other?

Did they communicate on a personal level?

Did they eat their meals together?

What, if anything, did they do to assist each other with problems or during illness?

Did they buy gifts for each other on special occasions?


What was the conduct and habit of the parties in relation to:

Preparation of meals,

Washing and mending clothes,


Household maintenance,

Any other domestic services?


Did they participate together or separately in neighbourhood and community activities?

What was the relationship and conduct of each of them towards members of their respective families and how did such families behave towards the parties?


What was the attitude and conduct of the community towards each of them and as a couple?


What were the financial arrangements between the parties regarding the provision of or contribution towards the necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter, recreation, etc.)?

What were the arrangements concerning the acquisition and ownership of property?

Was there any special financial arrangement between them which both agreed would be determinant of their overall relationship?


What was the attitude and conduct of the parties concerning children?

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