DEFINITION of 'Income Splitting'

A tax reduction strategy employed by families living in areas that are subject to bracketed tax regulations. The goal of using an income-splitting strategy is to reduce the family's gross tax level, at the expense of some family members paying higher taxes than they otherwise would.

BREAKING DOWN 'Income Splitting'

An example of income splitting is a higher income family member transferring a portion of his or her income to a lower income family member through some legal means, such as hiring the lower income family member and deducting the cost of the labor as a legitimate business expense. Although the family still earns the same amount of money, the overall amount of tax it must pay is reduced.

Another example is the transfer of tax credits from a lower income family member to a higher income family member. This can be done by transferring tuition credits from students to parents funding their children's post-secondary educations.

In Canada, an income-splitting technique can be used to reduce tax liability through RRSP contributions because money contributed to RRSPs is tax deductible. A higher income family member can contribute to a lower income family member's RRSP, thus lowering the higher income person's overall tax liability and potentially moving the higher income family member into a lower tax bracket.

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