5 Things To Ask Your Accountant When Facing a separation or divorce

divorce

Separation and divorce are becoming more and more common in our society. It is important to consult and include your accountant in your divorce or separation proceedings since there are important financial and tax considerations that must be considered. Failing to do so may result in either an immediate tax burden or one that will appear a few years later.

Here are important issues to discuss with your accountant:

1. Spousal and Child Support

Spousal and Child Support and two separate forms of support. The first is paid to support the spouse and the other for the children as the wording implies. It is important to itemize your Separation Agreement to distinguish both child and spousal support. This is because spousal support is considered a tax deduction to the payor (the person actually paying the other spouse), and taxable income to the payee (the spouse receiving the support). Child support, however, does not have any tax ramifications.

Also, the tax implications may differ for both parties if an amount is paid on a periodic basis or as one lump-sum.

Your accountant can advise you on how to structure your support.

2.  Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

CCB is calculated based on the adjusted family net income. Therefore, both parents’ income is considered by the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) to calculate the CCB.

In the event of a divorce or a separation of more than 90 days, it will be important to advise CRA as soon as possible of the change in marital status which will change the adjusted family net income and therefore change the CCB payments.

In order to be able to balance your budget post-separation or divorce, you should consult with your accountant to determine what each parent will be receiving in CCB.

3. Capital Gains Tax

When a couple is negotiating a possible sale of their former family residence during their divorce proceedings, they may need to consider capital gains tax following the sale. Different factors must be considered, such as when the home was purchased, and how much equity the parties have accumulated in the property since they have lived there. Your accountant should be able to advise you regarding whether or not you need to be concerned with capital gains tax and what you can do to plan around it.

4. Cashing Out Retirement:

Many times, one spouse intends to cash out their retirement account in order to buy another spouse out of a different asset. There are commonly tax consequences to transactions like these, and the couple should speak to their accountant about how to avoid negative tax ramifications.

5. Trading Assets:

There are often many different types of assets involved in a separation or divorce mediation. People own real estate, investment property, stocks, bonds, retirement and investment accounts, pensions, antiques, and more. Because of how diversified some people’s investments are, it is important to consider that all assets are not created equal. Some retirement accounts, for example, are pre-tax and some are post-tax. Therefore, if someone gets a home with $100,000 in equity and the other gets a retirement account that will be taxed when they take the money out that is currently worth $100,000, these assets may not be worth the same. This depends on the specific tax consequences that flow to each individual asset. It is important to also take into account the hidden tax costs that may be associated with an asset that will be transferred in a divorce proceeding.

Contributed by Valérie Marcil and Carl-Philippe Finn-Côté from Marcil Lavallee. This piece was produced as a part of the quarterly Canadian Overview, a newsletter produced by the Canadian member firms of Moore Stephens North America.

This article is from the quarterly Canadian Overview, a newsletter produced by the Canadian member firms of Moore Stephens North AmericaThese articles are meant to pursue our mission of being the best partner in your success by keeping you aware of the latest business news.

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