CRA seeks repayment from unwitting CERB double-dippers

Organization sets deadline for Canadians who made 'honest mistake' to avoid improper tax slips

CRA seeks repayment from unwitting CERB double-dippers

The after-effects of the initial confusion surrounding the disbursement of pandemic-related aid continue to make themselves felt with the latest news coming from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

In a statement to Global News, the CRA said it has identified certain Canadians who may have inadvertently received double payments of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as they submitted applications to both Service Canada and the tax agency.

“Canadians can apply for the CERB through Service Canada or through the CRA, but not both,” the CRA said.

Those who applied through both channels, the agency said, may have made an “honest mistake.” Canadians who qualified for employment insurance on March 15 or later, it said, were still entitled to receive CERB, and “those EI claims” were automatically transferred to the response benefit.

“This led to some clients, inadvertently applying for financial support at both Service Canada and the CRA in the first few days of the CERB program,” the CRA’s statement said.

The decision to automatically convert EI applications into CERB has had painful consequences for some. In June, some Canadians were surprised to see their payments from the government end prematurely, not realizing that they had been receiving CERB rather than EI and that an initial $2,000 windfall they received was an advance on future payments.

As of October 4, CERB, which has been phased out and replaced with new benefit programs, has resulted in payments amounting to $81.64 billion across more than 27.5 million applications processed for Canadian workers who were sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualified Canadians have until December 2 to retroactively apply for the last pay period, which was from August 30 until September 26.

The CRA said it is sending letters to Canadians who accidentally got double CERB payments because they applied both through the agency and Service Canada. Those individuals are being advised that they must repay an amount to the CRA by December 31 “to ensure that the CRA doesn’t issue [a] tax slip improperly.”

Those who applied in “good faith” but later discovered they were ineligible must still return the money to the CRA, the agency said, clarifying that it would be “without penalties or interest.”

But in cases where an individual has the capacity to pay but refuses to reach a mutually acceptable payment arrangement, the CRA said it “may take legal action.”


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