What amount can you claim or report?

Answer a few questions to find out if the support payments received or paid are taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payer.

Questions and answers

The tax rules that apply to your situation depend on whether your court order or written agreement was made:

Tax rules for court orders or written agreements made before May 1997

Support payments for a child or spouse or common-law partner, under a court order or written agreement made before May 1997, are taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payer unless any of the following 4 situations applies.

1. Changes to the amount of child support payments

If a court order or written agreement made before May 1997 is modified after April 1997 to change the amount of child support payable to the recipient, the revised amount has to follow the tax rules in effect after April 1997. For more information, see Tax rules for court orders or written agreements made after April 1997.

Note

Automatic changes in the amount of support, based on cost-of-living increases or changes in the payer's income, that are stated in the order or agreement are not included in this rule. For more information on the cost-of-living increases, visit Statistics Canada. If you live in Quebec, visit Institut de la statistique du Québec.

2. A new court order or written agreement with the same person

The amounts under the original and the new court order or written agreement have to follow the tax rules in effect after April 1997 if all of the following apply:

  • The original order or agreement was made before May 1997.
  • The original order or agreement is still valid.
  • The new order or agreement was made after April 1997 with the same person.
  • The new order or agreement changes the total amount of child support payable.

The tax rules in effect after April 1997 apply to both orders or agreements, starting on the date specified in the new order or agreement or on the day it was made. For more information, see Tax rules for court orders or written agreements made after April 1997.

3. The court order or written agreement specifies that payments will not be taxable or deductible

A court order or written agreement may specify that child support payments made after a certain date will no longer be taxable and deductible. However, this date cannot be before May 1, 1997.

4. Election for child support payments

If you have a court order or written agreement dated before May 1997, you can choose to follow the tax rules in effect after April 1997 without having to change the order or agreement.

The payer and the recipient must both agree to this election. Both parties must sign Form T1157, Election for Child Support Payments, and send it to us.

Once the election has been accepted, the order or agreement will follow the tax rules that apply after April 1997. It cannot be reversed.

Note

A separate form must be filled out for each order or agreement.

Tax rules for court orders or written agreements made after April 1997

Generally, child support payments made under a court order or written agreement made after April 1997 (or before May 1997 if one of the situations mentioned above apply) are not deductible by the payer and do not have to be included in the recipient's income. Spousal support payments continue to be deductible to the payer and must be included in the recipient's income. The following explanations give more information about these rules.

Note

For an order or agreement made after April 1997, federal, provincial or territorial child support guidelines may automatically change the support amounts. For more information, visit Child Support on the Department of Justice Canada's website.

Child support payments

Under court orders and written agreements made after April 1997, any support amount that is not stated in the order or agreement as being only for the support of the recipient is considered to be child support. These amounts are not deductible by the payer and do not have to be included in the recipient's income.

Spousal support payments

Generally, support payments made under a court order or written agreement for the maintenance of the recipient are taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payer if both of the following situations apply:

  • The order or agreement clearly states the amount to be paid for the spouse or common-law partner.
  • All payments for child support are fully paid for the current and previous years.

Priority of child support

If your court order or written agreement specifies child support payments and support payments for the recipient, priority is given to the child support. This means that all payments made are first considered to have been made toward child support. Any amount paid over and above the child support amount is considered to be support payments for the recipient.

All child support payable to a recipient must be fully paid before any amounts paid as support for the recipient can be claimed as a deduction. Any overdue child support amounts are carried forward and added to the next year's support payments.

Note

The priority of child support does not apply when the child support and spouse or common-law partner support are payable under different court orders or written agreements and the recipients are different people.

Example 

Beginning January 2018, Mark had to make monthly support payments of $400 ($150 for his former spouse, and $250 for their children). Mark paid $400 from January to March for a total of $1,200. He made no other payment for the rest of the year. Mark owes $1,800 in child support.

When he filed his 2018 tax return, Mark could not deduct the spousal support payments because he did not fully pay his child support.

In 2019, Mark must fully pay all child support owing for 2018 and 2019 before he can deduct anything he pays for spousal support.

 

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