What to Do if I Get a CRA Letter Saying I Have to Repay My CERB 0

Posted On June 28, 2022, by Admin

The pandemic was a hard blow to all of us. Besides physical and psychological health, it affected our daily routines and our finances. Numerous people lost their jobs or worked less than normal. In response, many countries worldwide hurried to help their residents by sending financial support. Canada was no exception.

Almost 9 million Canadians received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) between March and October 2020. However, quite a few of these payments went to people who weren’t eligible for the benefit or didn’t qualify for the complete sum. Now, two years after issuing the payments, the CRA is asking for that money back.

This article will explore the topic of CERB payments eligibility, CERB repayment notices, and the process of CERB repayment. Stay with us to learn more.


Was I Eligible for CERB?

Before discussing CERB repayment notices and procedures, let’s look at the CERB eligibility enigma and its confusion.

All Canadians who believed they qualified for the benefit could check their eligibility on the CRA’s official website once the program launched. These pages are still available, and they currently read the following conditions:

Canadian residents eligible for CERB eligible were 15 years old or older, and those who:

  • Fulfilled one of the following three conditions:
    • Stopped working due to the pandemic.
    • Qualified for the Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits.
    • Exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019, and October 3, 2020.
  • Didn’t quit their jobs of their own accord.
  • Had employment or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.
  • Haven’t earned more than $1,000 in employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days during the 4-week benefit period of their claim before submitting the first claim.
  • Haven’t earned more than $1,000 in employment or self-employment income during the whole 4-week benefit period of your claim when submitting subsequent claims.

The CRA website provided similar information on who was eligible to apply for the benefit in 2020. Nevertheless, some of the wording on these pages caused many Canadians to misinterpret the text. Namely, the information didn’t clearly define the word income. So, many have interpreted the word to suit their situation.

While the CRA added more information to its website and cleared some of these ambiguities, not everything was resolved. Numerous Canadians have received letters from the CRA asking them to repay the money they weren’t eligible to receive soon after applying. Plenty of others are finding these letters in their mailboxes today.


Should I Repay My CERB?

If you’ve received a CERB repayment notice and feel overwhelmed by this unexpected bill, you’re not alone. It’s not easy finding yourself in this situation, and many citizens have already spoken about it publicly. However, disregarding the letter won’t resolve the issue. The CRA can garnish your bank account or paycheck and charge interest and penalties if you don’t return your debt in time.

Experts suggest you read the letter you’ve received carefully and consult with a professional or contact the agency to discuss your application. The CRA has recently announced it acknowledges the difficulty of the situation and is ready to help. Its agents are prepared to help you assess your specific situation and/or aid you in making a request for reconsideration.

You can make a formal reconsideration request within 30 days after receiving your debt notice. The agency also promised that non eligible recipients who have applied for the benefit by genuine mistake wouldn’t be penalized.  Review the CRA assessment of your eligibility – they sometimes make mistakes too.  Just do not pay the assessed amount without understanding why they believe you have received the CERB in error.


How Can I Repay the CERB?

Your CRA repayment notice will contain information about why you’re asked to repay your CERB and instructions on how you can do that. The letter may say you didn’t earn the minimum income to qualify for CERB, or you’ve received CERB payment from both CRA and Service Canada by mistake.

The CRA is currently collecting wrongly-issued CERB payments by encouraging its recipients to make these repayments voluntarily. You can use the CRA’s official website to determine whether you need to repay your CRA and to whom you need to repay it.

You can pay the debt online or by mail. You need to sign in to your CRA account if you’d like to pay online or pay by cheque or money orders if you’re paying by mail. Make sure you address the cheque or money order Receiver General for Canada and indicate the purpose of payment if you’re opting for the latter.

You can repay CERB debts in full or in installments. You should contact CRA to discuss your options if you’d like to use a second option.


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This blog is not meant to provide specific advice or opinions regarding the topic(s) discussed above. Should you have a question about your specific situation, please discuss it with your GBA advisor.

GBA LLP is a full-service accounting firm in the Greater Toronto Area, but we primarily service all of Ontario as well as the rest of Canada virtually, except Quebec. Our team of over 30, provides Audits and Reviews of financial statements, and Compilations of financial information, as well as corporate tax returns.  We provide specialized corporate tax and succession planning for small and medium businesses, in addition to general advisory services.

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