Updates to COVID -19 Canadian Responses for Individuals – May
With the full reopening of the Canadian economy still a moving target due to Covid-19, the federal government continues to update its stimulus and relief measures. In this edition of our Covid-19 Canadian Responses series, we briefly outline updates to existing programs and the introduction of new programs for Canadian individual taxpayers that have come about since our last update on April 6.
On May 22, 2020, the Canadian government released an important piece of information that applies to both individuals and businesses. There will be no penalties or interest for individual tax returns or disclosures not filed by the June 1 or June 15 deadlines as long as taxes owed are paid by the September 1 deadline. This softening of the filing deadlines is a sigh of relief for taxpayers and accountants alike.
The following are further updates to existing programs or new programs for Canadian individual taxpayers.
GST / HST Credits and CCB to continue uninterrupted
On May 15, the federal government announced that GST / HST credits will continue for an additional three months using 2018 tax return information for individuals who receive these payments. With many expected to take advantage of the extensions to filing deadlines, this ensures that the payments continue uninterrupted through to September. If tax returns have not been filed and assessed by early September, benefit and credit payments will stop and individuals will have to repay amounts issued for July, August and September.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – Updates to Eligibility
On April 15th, new eligibility criteria were announced to make the benefit more inclusive. You are now eligible if you:
- Earn less than $1,000 a month
- Are a seasonal workers who has exhausted Employment Insurance (EI) and are unable to work due to the pandemic
- Exhausted your EI benefits and are still unable to find work due to the pandemic.
It’s important to ensure that you are truly eligible for the benefit prior to applying as the federal government is paying out the funds and assessing eligibility after the fact to ensure that money gets into taxpayers’ hands as quickly as possible. If you receive the funds and are later assessed to be ineligible, you will have to repay the funds with additional penalties.
Updates to Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP)
In addition to the six-month moratorium on student loan repayments of Canada Student Loans, the federal government is also proposing changes to the CSLP to increase eligibility and amounts. Proposed changes include:
- Double Canada Student Grants up to $6,000 for eligible full-time students and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21, including the Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents.
- Increase eligibility for assistance by removing the student’s spouse’s contributions in 2020-21.
- Increase the maximum weekly amount provided to a student from $210 to $350 in 2020-21.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
On April 22, the federal government announced that that they are allocating $9 billion dollars for the CESB. The benefit pays $1,250 per month to post-secondary students and $2,000 per month to students with a disability or students with dependents. This benefit is paid from May to August 2020, and payments are retroactive to May 1st, 2020. Must reapply every 4 weeks.
To be eligible, you are:
- Currently a post-secondary student
- A post-secondary student who graduated in December 2019
- A student enrolling with a post-secondary institution beginning in September 2020
- Actively looking for work if you are able. Students can earn up to $1,000 per month and still receive the benefit.
Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG)
Announced on April 22, 2020, the CSSG amount is based on volunteer hours by post-secondary students and will range from $1,000 – $5,000 depending on the number of volunteer hours committed. Further details on this program are still to come.
Stimulus Program for Seniors
Senior citizens who are eligible for Old-Age Security (OAS) will receive an additional one-time payment of $300, and seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will receive an additional one-time payment of $200. These one-time payments are tax free. The date for payment has yet to be released.
Temporary Wage Top-up for low-income essential workers
The federal government is promising $3 billion in federal support for a cost-sharing program with all provinces and territories to top-up wages for low-income essential workers. Provinces and territories are responsible for determining eligibility and amount of support. More details to come.
As always, we are here to bring you the most current information as developments unfold. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.