Can’t repay CERB before Dec 31? Don’t fret! – CRA

'We need to ensure that the CERB is kept only by people who were eligible'

Can’t repay CERB before Dec 31? Don’t fret! – CRA

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is asking people who claimed the CERB pandemic relief by mistake to repay the amount by Dec. 31. The announcement comes after more than 200,000 Canadians received a notice from the agency about possible errors in their filing of claims.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit was designed to provide cash assistance to employed and self-employed Canadians whose income-earning capacity was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CERB payouts ended in late September, and a number of recipients have since been transitioned into the Employment Insurance program or have been receiving other recovery benefits.

But the CRA recently revealed that an estimated 213,000 CERB beneficiaries may have committed an “honest mistake” in their filing and would likely be asked to repay the benefit. Discrepancies in their information, for instance, would likely render them ineligible for CERB.

“We’ve reached out to some Canadians to confirm CERB eligibility. If it turns out you weren’t eligible and you need to repay some of the benefit payments, we encourage you to pay by December 31st, so there are no impacts on your 2020 income tax return,” the CRA announced this week.

Read more: 200K+ Canadians may have to return CERB payments

‘More time and flexibility’

Beneficiaries who are unable to pay back the CERB immediately can ask the agency for assistance.

“We’ve expanded payment arrangements to give you more time and flexibility based on your situation. You won’t be charged penalties or interest for errors made in good faith,” the agency said.

The CRA aimed to make the CERB claims process quick and convenient for applicants during the payout periods from March 15 to Sept. 26.

“But we need to ensure that the CERB is kept only by people who were eligible. Your situation may have changed since you first applied, or you may have made an honest mistake when applying,” the government said.

“Payments made to anyone who is later found to be ineligible will need to be returned. Any individuals who mistakenly received multiple payments or payments they did not apply for should begin the repayment process.”

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

How to return or repay the CERB:

  • Those who claimed the CERB through a direct deposit or who no longer have the original CERB cheque from the CRA can:
    • Transfer the funds through online banking or
    • Send a cheque or money order to the CRA by mail
  • Those who still have the original CERB cheque from the CRA should return it to the agency by mail and include the following information:
    • Reason for returning the cheque (why you were rendered ineligible)
    • The recipient’s Social Insurance Number (SIN) or Temporary Tax Number (TTN)
  • Those who received the CERB from Service Canada can:
    • Transfer the funds through online banking or
    • Send a cheque or money order to Service Canada payable to “Receiver General for Canada” (NOTE: Service Canada advises the public not to send cash through mail)

“Since the CERB is taxable, you can expect to receive an information slip on the amount of CERB you received,” the government said. “Service Canada will reverse the transaction if you repay the CERB for whatever reason, and you will not receive an information slip for that payment.”

Both the CRA and Service Canada encourage recipients to pay back the CERB before the deadline “to ensure that the [tax] information slips are not issued improperly”.

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