Support payments are amounts paid to a spouse, a former spouse or the natural parent of the payor’s child. There are two types: spousal support and child support. The tax rules with respect to each are different and must be considered. The Canada Revenue Agency issues guidance from time to time that provides further technical information regarding the income tax rules relating to support payments. Since January 1, 2001, the definition of spouse has applied to same-sex partners.
To be considered a support amount, a payment must have the following features:
1. the parties must be living separate and apart at the time the payment is made;
2. the payments must be considered an allowance payable on a periodic basis;
3. the payments were made for the maintenance of the recipient, in the case of spousal support, or children of the marriage, in the case of child support, or both, and the recipient has discretion as to how the support amount is used;
4. the payments are made directly to the recipient spouse or are considered third-party payments;
5. where payments are made to a spouse or former spouse:
(a) the parties must be living separate and apart by reason of the breakdown of their marriage; and
(b) the payment must be made pursuant to an order of the court or a written agreement.
By Charles Baker