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Millions of Canadians are feeling the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. Many have had to file for unemployment benefits after losing their jobs, while others have had to shut the doors to their businesses and collect government stimulus cheques to be able to keep up with their everyday bills.
Luckily, the Canadian government has stepped up to offer a number of financial assistance programs to help Canadians stay on top of their debt obligations, and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) is one of them.
What is The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)?
The CRB is designed specifically for Canadians who are ineligible to collect Employment Insurance (EI) but who still require some form of financial assistance because of a significant reduction in income.
Eligible workers who have had to stop working and self-employed individuals who have had their income slashed by at least half as a result of the current health crisis may qualify to receive these benefits from the Canadian government.
How Does The Canada Recovery Benefit Work?
If you require financial help because of hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, you can recieve a $1,000 payment (minus taxes withheld) for 2 weeks. If you need more money after that initial 2-week period is over, you will need to re-apply as the CRB does not automatically renew after a 2-week time frame expires.
A total of 13 eligibility periods (every 2 weeks for 26 weeks) is available up until September 25, 2021 for those who qualify. That means you can re-apply for the CRB every 2-weeks until September 25, the weeks do not have to be consecutive. The application process will be the same for every 2-week period you apply for.
Eligibility Criteria For The Canada Recovery Benefit
In order to qualify for CRB payments, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
- You live in Canada
- You were physically in Canada for the 2-week period you are applying for
- You are at least 15 years of age
- You have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- You are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
- You were not employed or self-employed as a direct result of COVID-19 during the 2-week period you are applying for
- Your average weekly income was reduced by at least 50% compared to what you were earning last year as a direct result of COVID-19
- You earned a minimum of $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months prior to the date of application from employment income
- You didn’t quit your job voluntarily or cut back on your hours on or after September 27, 2020, unless for a reasonable purpose
- You were actively looking for work during the period you’re applying for
- You did not fill out an application or receive any one of the following:
- Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
- Short-term disability
- Workers’ compensation
- Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP)
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will verify your eligibility for the CRB. It’s important to be entirely honest about the information you provide when you apply, as any fraudulent information or claims could lead to serious repercussions, including hefty fines or even jail time.
How Much Does The CRB Pay Out?
If you are eligible for the CRB program, you will receive $1,000 for a 2-week period for up to 26 weeks through the CRB. However, 10% of the money will be held for tax purposes, leaving you with a total of $900 for every 2-week period.
And that’s not necessarily the entire amount you will owe in taxes in the amount provided through the CRB. You may need to pay more taxes on the amounts received come tax time in April, depending on what you earned in 2020. Your CRB payments must be reported to the CRA when you file your personal income taxes.
Your Income Impacts The Amount You Can Keep
Depending on how much you earn in the calendar year, you may have to reimburse a certain amount of the benefit to the CRA when you file your taxes. More specifically, you’ll need to reimburse 50¢ for every dollar of net income earned over $38,000, which will be due along with any other income tax owed to the CRA after your taxes are filed.
If you earned less than $38,000 in a calendar year, you won’t have to reimburse any money.
How to Apply For The Canada Recovery Benefit
You can apply for CRB as early as the first Monday after the 2-week period that you are applying for has expired and as late as 60 days after the period ends.
If you want to apply for CRB online, you’ll need to register a CRA account. Once your CRA account is ready to go, you can complete the application online. Otherwise, you can apply by phone by calling 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.
You have a choice to be paid either by cheque or direct deposit. If you prefer to be paid by cheque, you can request this form of payment. Just keep in mind that a cheque will take approximately 10 to 12 business days to reach you. Otherwise, you’ll need to set up a direct position with the CRA, after which payments should take between 3 to 5 business days.
If you receive any provincial or territorial Social Assistance, these other benefits may be impacted if you begin receiving CRB payments. Check with your social assistance office before you apply.
This is a trying time for many Canadians, but all levels of government are doing what they can to help, and the CRB benefit is just one way to get financial assistance. If you require help after seeing a major reduction in your income as a result of COVID-19, see if you qualify for CRB benefits. Otherwise, there are several other government-backed financial assistance programs available that you may be eligible for.
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