As 2020 soon comes to a close, one of the most notorious years many will remember, the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has sent out warnings to approximately 213,000 Canadians. They will need to make repayments for receiving double CERB. Back in October, the CRA confirmed that several Canadians had received double CERB payments while others may have claimed the benefit incorrectly.
Immediate repayment is not necessarily required since the CRA has suspended collections of debt for the duration of the pandemic emergency. CRA highly recommends that repayment should be made before December 31st, 2020. The reasoning is that the Canadian Emergency Revenue Benefit you collected will appear on your T4A tax slips, and will need to be reported as income on the 2020 tax return.
It was the government’s top priority to avoid financial distress during the lock down, so CERB was quickly created and deployed in a matter of weeks after the first wave of COVID-19. Of course, with any legislation passed that quickly comes with flaws and loopholes. Some may have taken advantage of these loopholes unethically, while the majority are attributed to honest mistakes. The main error found was one person applying for CERB through both the CRA and Service Canada.
If you believe that you are one of 2.6% of Canadians owing money, and having spent it, you can relax. CRA agents are willing to negotiate repayment terms for individuals. However, if no arrangement can be made, the file will become a collection matter.
To repay CERB funds, all you need to do is visit the Government of Canada website and confirm whether payments came from CRA or Service Canada. Next, you have the option of repaying by mail or by direct deposit via CRAs “My Account” system. Another option is to pay through online banking - just add CRA as a payee using your Social Insurance Number!
While the CRA will be sending out letters to those who owe money, the agency is also warning about scammers who are calling, texting, and emailing Canadians, claiming to be the CRA, and asking for repayment of the emergency benefits. If you feel that you were contacted by a scammer, call CRA, or check out “My Account” on the Canada.ca website to ensure legitimacy.