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Before I met my girlfriend, I lived in a condo. Now I rented it out and I live with her and pay her rent. Now we are not legally married or signed common law agreement or anything like that, but I heard that if you live together for a year, you are automatically considered to be in a common law marriage.

Now does this mean I need to file taxes jointly with her? We have our own tax accountants and are happy with our choices.

If we file together, I hear we lose a lot of refunds? And I guess filing separately will be illegal?

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In Ontario, common law marriage requires 3 years of cohabitation, and doesn't give rights to property (which remains separate). I'd say in your situation you can still file as single, but I'd suggest asking your tax accountant to be sure.

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If you pay her rent, how do you differ from a tenant in the eyes of the law?

I ask this to show that you are in a business relationship first and foremost. If you don't want to file jointly, there is nothing compelling about your situation to force it. (Grant you, in most countries, there is a benefit to filing jointly) but here, I would argue it would be difficult to make the case.

There are, to the best of my knowledge, no laws barring opposite sex landlord-tenant rental situations. Furthermore, there are no laws barring romantic relationships amongst landlords and tenants. Indeed, you would need to prove your relationship in some fashion for it to even be considered.

In establishing a date of separation from my soon-to-be-ex-wife, for example, I merely needed to prove that we were not "presenting ourselves as husband and wife." Once I showed that we didn't sit together at church and that she was attending parties I wasn't, that was sufficient.

Proving you are in a relationship is actually a lot harder than proving you're not.

  • It sounds like it is a conjugal relationship (unless I'm reading too much into the word girlfriend), and he is contrbuting towards housing expenses and calling it rent. It would be an "exceptional" partner that would let him live free in her place while she pays all of the condo fees/utilities/property taxes/insurance/mortgage. CRA stipulates that this 'rent' also does not need to be taxable, if it is 'cost-sharing'. – IT-RMT Jan 17 '14 at 5:36

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