Federal government to clarify shared parenting benefits eligibility

Amendment seeks to correct disparity between executive’s and judiciary’s definitions of shared parenting

Federal government to clarify shared parenting benefits eligibility
Bill Morneau

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced on Aug. 29 that the federal government plans to amend the Income Tax Act to clarify eligibility for shared parenting benefits.

The legislative proposal comes after several recent Federal Court of Appeal decisions that, according to a statement by the Department of Finance, applied a narrower interpretation of shared parenting.

In the court’s definition, shared parenting is when a child resides with the parent between 45 per cent and 55 per cent of the time.  Since 2011, the Canada Revenue Agency has determined who qualifies, based on an interpretation of shared parenting as meaning that a child generally lives with the parent between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of the time — wider than the definition applied by the court.

These benefits are under Canada Child Benefit, which was introduced in 2016 to provide low- and middle-income families with tax-free money to assist in raising children, with around $24 billion paid out annually. The benefits can be split among parents who share parenting time for a child.

According to Morneau, the clarification to the Income Tax Act will ensure that benefits paid to families in shared-parenting arrangements are not stopped or interrupted.

“This money makes a huge difference in the lives of children,” Morneau said. “To make sure all parents who qualify continue to receive this support, our government intends to clarify the legislation."

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