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Government of Canada announces breaks for CERB and other COVID-19 benefit recipients
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
The Government of Canada announced that self-employed individuals who applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and would have qualified based on their gross income will not be required to repay the benefit, provided they also met all other eligibility requirements. The same approach will apply whether the individual applied through the Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada.
This means that, self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 and who applied for the CERB will not be required to repay the CERB, as long as their gross self-employment income was at least $5,000 and they met all other eligibility criteria.
Some self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 may have already voluntarily repaid the CERB. The CRA and Service Canada will return any repaid amounts to these individuals. Additional details will be available in the coming weeks.
In addition, the Minister of National Revenue announced that the Government of Canada will provide targeted interest relief to Canadians who received COVID-related income support benefits. Once individuals have filed their 2020 income tax and benefit return, they will not be required to pay interest on any outstanding income tax debt for the 2020 tax year until April 30, 2022. This will give Canadians more time and flexibility to pay if they have an amount owing.
To qualify for targeted interest relief, individuals must have had a total taxable income of $75,000 or less in 2020 and have received income support in 2020 through one or more of the following COVID-19 measures:
- the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB);
- the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB);
- the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB);
- the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB);
- the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB);
- Employment Insurance benefits; or
- similar provincial emergency benefits.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will automatically apply the interest relief measure for individuals who meet these criteria.
Additionally, any CRA-administered credits and benefits normally paid monthly or quarterly, such as the Canada Child Benefit and the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit will not be applied to reduce individuals’ tax debt owing for the 2020 tax year. Canadians are strongly encouraged to file their tax returns by the filing deadline to ensure that their benefit payments continue without interruption.
The interest relief measure will provide an estimated 4.5 million low- and middle-income Canadians with additional flexibility to feel more confident about accessing the COVID-19 income support without facing additional stress at tax time.