Do I Have To Disclose My Spouse’s Salary For Surplus Income?

Category: Cost of Bankruptcy (10) comments

*Please note that this article has been updated with the 2017 surplus income limits

Surplus income is calculated based on family income, so all members of the family disclose their income. If the husband is declaring bankruptcy but the wife is not going bankrupt, the husband is still supposed to declare his wife’s income for the purpose of calculating surplus income.

What happens if the non-bankrupt spouse refuses to disclose their income? A trustee has no power to compel the non-bankrupt spouse to do so, since the spouse isn’t bankrupt.

In that case, Directive 11R, paragraph 6 (2) states that:

“Where the non-bankrupt spouse refuses or neglects to divulge his or her income or expenses, the trustee shall, for the purposes of determining surplus income, apply 50 percent of the applicable Superintendent’s standards corresponding to the number of persons in the family unit.”

Complicated we know, but here’s an example (using round numbers to make this easy to understand):

surplus income and spouse incomeIf the limit for a family of two is $2,640 and the non-bankrupt spouse refuses to disclose their income, the limit is reduced to $1,320. So, if the bankrupt has income of $2,640 per month, he is $1,000 over the revised limit, so he would have a surplus obligation of half of that, or $500 per month.

As you can see failure of the non-bankrupt spouse to report income can prove to be very costly. The amount you will need to pay in surplus income payments can be much higher than if the spouse did disclose their income.

What you should do

In practice, we recommend that if possible the non-bankrupt spouse should disclose their income, because in most cases doing so will reduce the amount the bankrupt would be required to pay in surplus. If that is not possible, a consumer proposal could be considered as an alternative to filing bankruptcy and paying higher surplus income payments.

If you are concerned, talk to a bankruptcy trustee in your area before filing bankruptcy.

Leave A Comment

  1. helen

    I have a lot of pay day loans that I cannot pay total about $7000. My husband does not know about them… I would like to declare bankruptcy and get them off my back…. but I do not want my husband to know about or have anything to do with it… Is that possible?

    Also can this all be done on line as we live in a small country town?

  2. J. Douglas Hoyes

    You are legally allowed to file bankruptcy on your own; you are not legally required to tell your husband that you are filing bankruptcy. However, if at some point in the future you and your husband apply for a loan and you are denied or charged a higher interest rate because of your bankruptcy he may find out, so you should decide if it is better to tell him now, or deal with it if he finds out in the future.

    It is not possible to file bankruptcy in Canada on line. Under Canadian law you are required to meet in person with a licensed bankruptcy trustee to assess your situation and advise you of your options. If you live in a small town that may require you to travel to a larger town. We suggest you contact a trustee and discuss your concerns over the phone, and then decide if bankruptcy is the correct options for you.

  3. Eevina

    If my husband is making monthly bankruptcy payments and I’m declaring my income along with him, what happens if I receive an inheritance? Note, I have not declared bankruptcy. Is it really fair that my half of my inheritance will go towards his bankruptcy? What if I give it all away to my grandchild and just not tell him about it?

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes

      Hi Eevina. If you are not bankrupt, you getting an inheritance does not impact your husband’s bankruptcy. An inheritance is not income, (it’s an asset), so as long as the inheritance is not in your husband’s name while he is bankrupt, it has no direct impact on his bankruptcy.

  4. mona

    Hi, I am planning to file a consumer proposal due to my inability to pay all my debt. I need some clarity o the followings:
    1. I do not have job but husband has one. Could I file a consumer proposal based on my husband income?
    2. I have car loan, what will happen to my car? Can i still keep my car and pay the monthly payments?
    3. My husband also had filed consumer proposal the payment are almost been paid out. Any impacts on my husband proposal? Or any potential impacts on my consumer proposal due to his proposal that is almost done?


    1. J. Douglas Hoyes

      Hi Mona.

      1. Yes, you could file a proposal even if you have no income. It would be up to the creditors to decide whether or not they accept that proposal, since they may have concerns about your ability to make the payments.
      2. If your car payments are current, you can continue to make the payments even in a consumer proposal, and keep the car.
      3. Your proposal would be separate from your husband’s, so since his is already up and running your proposal should have no impact on his, and vice versa. They are two separate legal proceedings.

      1. mona

        Great, thanks for the prompt reply. Do you have office in Nova Scotia? If not can I file consumer proposal in Ontario…i am living in Halifax, NS. It seems I can not use my husband income i thought I could and that my husband income will be considered as part of family income. Thoughts?

  5. Hughie S.

    I have considered going bankrupt as a sole proprietor… my wife now “despises” me and I have moved out. Seems like a seperation?? So is her income still required to be disclosed? What, if any, documents are needed additionally now?

    1. J. Douglas Hoyes

      If you are separated, you are not required to disclose your ex-wife’s income. Whether or not you are separated is a question of fact, which can be questioned by the trustee or your creditors. Ideally a separation agreement is good proof of a separation, but assuming you can prove that you are living at a different address, that should be sufficient evidence that you are separated.


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