200K+ Canadians may have to return CERB payments

Which beneficiaries will likely repay the CRA?

200K+ Canadians may have to return CERB payments

Canada’s tax agency has informed more than 200,000 recipients of the CERB pandemic financial aid that they may have to return the money if they received payments in error.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit was launched in April as a safety net for people who were forced out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has since been replaced by newer initiatives, such as the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

In the early months of the pandemic, applicants could file their CERB claims either with Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency. Those who applied with both agencies, however, “may be required to repay an amount to the CRA,” according to a spokesperson for the tax agency who spoke with CBC News.

Read more: Canada Recovery Benefit: Everything you need to know

Other possible reasons for repayment include:

  • The recipient applying from outside Canada
  • The recipient failing to meet the required 50% income decline
  • The recipient being unable to prove their hardship was linked to COVID-19

The revenue office doesn’t require immediate repayment from the estimated 213,000 CERB beneficiaries who received the notice.

“We will resume collections activities when it is responsible to do so, including collection of debts related to CERB payments,” the CRA spokesperson said.

Read more: How to apply for Canada's new $500 per week COVID-19 benefits

For now, the notice only serves as a warning of possible repayment. The errors committed by some applicants may have also been the result of an honest mistake, the CRA said.

In the first half of 2020, CERB payments provided out-of-work Canadians with $2,000 every four weeks, or the equivalent of $500 a week.

Should a past application prove erroneous, beneficiaries can opt to repay the amount as soon as they can or until they receive their tax return.

The CRA also offers some flexibility in its repayment terms. For recipients who must return their financial aid, the agency is open to creating a repayment plan that suits their individual capacity.

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