Tax debt and common law spouse

Question: In 2006 my girlfriend and I had a baby and began what the CRA defines as a common law relationship. I have been self employed for the last three years and I have not filed my 2006 or 2007 tax returns. I don’t have the money to pay any tax owing right now. As a common law spouse, does my wife have to claim my income for 2006 and 2007 on her personal income tax return? Is there a way my common law spouse can file her personal income tax so that she is not assessed with my unpaid 2006 and 2007 tax?

Thank you in advance for any information you can give me.

Answer: This is a question you should ask of a tax accountant, since the rules are complicated.  In simple terms, if you are living together and have a child together you are considered common-law, which is the same for tax purposes as being married, so yes, she is required to report your income on her tax return.  She will not be assessed for your unpaid taxes; that’s your responsibility.  However, CRA may prevent her from getting child tax credits if your taxes are not filed.

We recommend you discuss this with a tax accountant, who will probably suggest that you file all outstanding returns, and then make payment arrangements directly with CRA.

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