Cracking the Conjugal Myths: What Does it Mean for the Attribution Rules?

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Canadian Tax Journal. Volume 50, Number 3 (2002), p. 1031-1039.


The Law Commission of Canada deserves praise for a report that is groundbreaking in both its substantive vision and its methodological approach to tax policy analysis. The report’s core argument is that the legal treatment of close adult relationships should depend less on whether they are conjugal in nature and more on their functional relevance to the policy objectives of particular legal regimes. Applying this principle to the Income Tax Act, the report criticizes the tendency in tax law to assume that conjugal partners share all their income, expenses, and property while ignoring or discounting the degree of economic interdependence that exists in many other types of close relationships between adults. The report’s recommendations would de-emphasize conjugality to make the income tax more individually focused overall and, where it does take relationships into account, more pluralistic with regard to the form of those relationships.

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