Dalhousie Law Journal


lesbian, gay, rights, equality, tax, subsidies, spouse, Income Tax Act, same-sex couples


In this article I shall briefly review some of those struggles and the current state of the law. This forms the backdrop to an issue that I view as being of fundamental importance to lesbians and gay men in their fight for equality and which has not received much attention; that is the tax system. I shall focus on two aspects. First, I shall analyse the use of the tax system as a spending programme and a tool by which to subsidise particular activities. In this context I shall examine the federal government's refusal to recognise lesbian and gay relationships, thereby denying lesbians and gay men tax subsidies available to heterosexuals. My second focus is to consider the impact of extending the definition of "spouse" in the Income Tax Act to include same-sex couples. I shall show that the impact of such a change for lesbians and gay men will depend to a great extent on the level of income of both partners and the distribution of income between them. I conclude that it is those couples in which one partner is economically dependent on the other that would benefit most from being included as spouses under the Act. Finally, I discuss some of the issues that the lesbian and gay community has to consider as we struggle for equality generally, and more particularly those that emerge from my analysis of the tax system.