A number of different support programs have been launched in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article serves to provide an overview of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) specifically.
What is the CERB?
The CERB is a taxable benefit that will be available from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020. The last day to apply for said benefits will be December 2, 2020.
The benefit amount is $2,000 per month, equivalent to $500 per week. A maximum of 16 weeks of benefits (or $8,000) can be received by each eligible individual.
Benefits are expected to start within 10 days of your application submission. Benefits will be paid retroactively to your eligibility date, and will be made through direct deposit (if you have that set up already with the CRA) or via cheque.
As always, direct deposit will ensure you receive your funds the quickest. If you have your CRA MyAccount already set up, you can manage your direct deposit information there. You can also contact the CRA to set up direct deposit via these other setup methods found here.
Who is eligible for this benefit?
The CERB benefit is available to individual workers who:
Reside in Canada,
Are at least 15 years of age,
Have had to stop working because of COVID-19, or are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) regular or sickness benefits,
Had worldwide income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of applicable. Income can be from employment (wages or paid leave), self-employment (sole-proprietor), or maternity and parental benefits under the EI program or similar Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, and
Have to be or expected to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period (March 15, 2020 through April 11, 2020), and no employment income for subsequent benefit periods.
Even if you are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits, you are still able to apply for the CERB benefits.
However, you cannot be paid EI benefits and the CERB benefits for the same period. As such, if you are already receiving EI benefits, you will continue to receive these EI benefits until the end of your benefit period. If your EI benefits started before March 15, 2020 and end before October 3, 2020, you can apply for the CERB benefits after that period if you meet all the CERB requirements.
If you had applied for EI benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will automatically be processed through the CERB program. You do not need to re-apply.
You also do not have to be a Canadian Citizen or a Canadian Permanent Resident. Temporary foreign workers and international students may also be eligible for the CERB benefits if they meet all the eligibility requirements. You must reside in Canada and have a valid Social Insurance Number.
What constitutes “stopped working because of COVID-19”?
Examples of stopping work because of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:
You have been let go from your job because of COVID-19,
You have not officially been laid off or let go from your job, but your work hours have been reduced to zero,
You are in quarantine,
You are sick because of COVID-19,
You are away from work to take care of others that are in quarantine,
You are away from work to take care of others that are sick due to COVID-19, or
You are away from work to take care of children or other dependents whose care facility is closed due to COVID-19.
You cannot quit your job voluntarily to try and qualify for the CERB benefit.
How do I apply for the CERB?
Starting April 6, 2020 applicants will be able to apply for the benefit using an online application.
You will not have to provide a medical certificate. You will need to provide your personal contact information, your Social Insurance Number, and confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements.
Note that the CRA may ask you to provide additional documentation to verify your eligibility at a future date. As such, it is very important that you can clearly prove that you meet the eligibility requirements in order to avoid any potential penalties for accessing benefits you may not have been entitled to.
Where can I find more information?
A number of different news sources are posting information on the CERB and the other benefits. Please also watch our blog for more posts, as well as our social media channels.
The link to the Canada Revenue Agency’s page on the CERB can also be found here.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a dominant topic in our everyday lives for the past while now. We are writing to provide an update on a few key topics of interest, as well as to communicate how we are ensuring our ability to meet your needs during these challenging times.
Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines
In the past few days there have been significant changes with regards to the personal income tax filing deadlines, as well as the tax payment deadlines. The major updates are as follows:
The Canadian Individual income tax filing deadline has been extended from April 30, 2020 to June 1, 2020.
The Canadian Trust income tax filing deadline has been extended from March 31, 2020 to May 1, 2020.
For individuals that owe Canadian individual income tax payments from March 18, 2020 through August 31, 2020 will now have until September 1, 2020 to remit payment without interest or penalty.
For corporations that owe Canadian corporate income tax payments from March 18, 2020 through August 31, 2020 will also have until September 1, 2020 to remit payment without interest or penalty. NOTE: This extension does not apply to other payments such as GST/HST and employer payroll remittances.
UPDATE: The US Individual income tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020 with the ability to further extend to October 15, 2020 using regular extension filing mechanisms.
For individuals that owe US individual income tax payments of up to $1 million USD that would be due April 15, 2020 now have until July 15, 2020 to remit payment without interest or penalty.
For corporations that owe US federal corporate income tax payments of up to $10 million USD that would be due April 15, 2020 now have until July 15, 2020 to remit payment without interest or penalty.
Our office procedures and operations
With the suggestions from the governments to practice social distancing and to work from home when possible, as well as the indefinite closure of Alberta day cares and schools, we are currently working from home for the foreseeable future. Email will be the best way to reach us.
We are also cancelling in-person meetings, and will not be booking any in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. We can schedule phone calls and/or virtual meetings in the interim. We are also accessible via email.
The procedures with regards to submission of tax documents for processing and the finalization of tax returns will be as follows:
We have a secure client portal to which you can upload your tax documents. A registration link for this portal will be sent to you with the organizer. If you have not already received a portal registration link, or you think you may have missed the link, please contact us.
If you are unable to utilize the portal to submit your tax documents for preparation, you are more than welcome to drop off a package at the main building reception or mail in your package (with tracking). Main building reception is currently operational Monday to Friday from 9:00am through 4:00pm at Suite #115, 1925 18 Avenue NE.
For returns that are able to be electronically filed, we will obtain your e-file signature authorizations on the applicable forms using the client portal. We do need the signed e-file signature authorizations returned to us before we can transmit the returns for processing.
For returns that need to be paper filed with your original taxpayer signature, we will provide you with the government filing copy via the client portal with detailed printing, assembly, signature, and mailing instructions.
Every effort will be made to continue to push through returns, although extensions will be utilized as required through these trying times.
Other Canadian developments and support measures
The other various developments and support measures are as follows:
The Canadian federal government announced a temporary wage subsidy for small businesses. Businesses that are eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities, will be eligible for this subsidy. It will be available for three months and will be equal to 10% of the remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
The Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend all audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives for the vast majority of businesses. The CRA will also not contact any small or medium business to initiate any post-assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for four weeks.
Additional support to Canadian companies will be available through loans, guarantees, or insurance policies via the Canada Account administered by Export Development Canada.
Farm Credit Canada will increase the near-term credit available to Canadian farmers and the agri-food sector.
An Emergency Care Benefit is being established. Workers who need to stay home because of COVID-19 but that are not eligible for EI may qualify under this new benefit. This new benefit will provide up to $900 every two weeks for up to 15 weeks, and will be available to individuals (including self-employed individuals) unable to earn employment income who fall ill with COVID-19, are placed in quarantine, take care of a family member who is ill, or parents with children who require care or supervision due to school and day care closures. This benefit will be available starting April 2020. Stay tuned for more info!
An Emergency Support Benefit is also being established for workers who are not eligible for EI and are facing unemployment. Further details are expected to be announced soon, so stay tuned!
For employees that qualify for EI, the usual one week waiting period for EI sickness benefits are being waived to allow benefits to start right away.
The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF’s) will be reduced by 25% for 2020, with similar rules for individuals receiving variable benefits under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan. This is to try and preserve capital in retirement accounts.
The maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment will be increased by $300 per child for the 2019-2020 benefit year as part of the May payment.
There will be a one-time special payment to eligible individuals through the GST/HST Credit program of approximately $400 for single individuals and approximately $600 for couples in May 2020.
There will be a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans.
There will be increased flexibility for homeowners to defer mortgage payments on certain insured mortgage loans through CHMC.
The government is looking to provide support through Canada’s large banks, including a deferral of up to six-months for mortgages and possible relief of other credit products such as automobile loans and credit cards.