The Canada Revenue Agency CRA says it’s warning approximately 213,000 Canadians who may have been paid twice through the Canadian Emergency Response Benefits Program (CERB) that they could be called upon to repay the money.
However, the agency said it was not required to repay it immediately. The CRA suspended the collection of debts for the duration of the pandemic emergency.
“The Canada Revenue Canada (CRA) has sent letters to individuals who may have applied for CERB from both Service Canada and the CRA, and who may be required to repay an amount to the CRA,” said the CRA spokesperson in an email.
“We will resume collections activities when it is responsible to do so, including collection of debts related to CERB payments,”.
The CRA answered the CBC’s question about individuals being asked to pay back pandemic benefits.
The agency said it still recommends that people pay back any CERB money they don’t get by the end of the year, warning that if they don’t, the money will appear on the T4A tax slip and will need to be reported as income on the next year’s tax return.
In an email to CBC News about possible refunds, the CRA has been careful to avoid proposing that all people who receive the warning letter engage in unethical conduct.
A CRA spokesperson noted that “the applicant can make an honest mistake when filing” with the CERB.
It was also possible that some of the people who received the letter had voluntarily returned the money, or incorrectly returned the money to Service Canada instead of the CRA, the spokesperson said.
According to the latest data, 945,000 pandemic subsidy reimbursements – including CERB and Canadian Emergency Student Welfare – have been made through the MyCRA Accounts online portal. A large amount has been attributed to confusion about how to apply for benefits in the early days of a pandemic.
For Canadians who have to pay back benefits, the CRA says they can make individual arrangements based on their ability to pay.
In the event that the CRA cannot reach such an agreement, the CRA will switch to collection measures. Those measures are still suspended during the pandemic but they could include forfeiting future credits and tax refunds or cutting wages, a spokesman said.
The CRA has also warned Canadians to take note of CERB scams, including text messages, emails or phone calls coming from CRA and asking for money or personal information.
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