CRA – more than 800 thousand Canadians returned COVID-19 cash aid


More than 830,000 Canadians have returned COVID-19 emergency aid benefits which they received by mistake, according to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

CRA is the Government of Canada‘s department responsible for tax collections, administration of tax laws and policy and the delivery of benefit programs and tax credits.

According to CBC News, Canadians made returned money received from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as well as the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).

The CERB provided eligible Canadians with CAD$2,000.00 (approximately PhP72,896.56) per month, while the CESB provided eligible Canadians with CAD$1,250.00 per month (approximately PhP45,561.39).

According to CRA, all the repayments were made voluntarily.

In an email to CBC News, CRA spokesperson Christopher Doody said “There are various reasons why voluntary repayments have been made: if applicants applied in error for a CERB payment from both Service Canada and the CRA for the same period, if an applicant later realized that they were not eligible for the benefit, or if an applicant returned to work earlier than expected.”

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada rushed to roll out financial aid programs for Canadians adversely affected by lockdowns.

CRA and Service Canada contact centres were overwhelmed by the sheer number of calls, with many Canadians unable to get through to get additional information about the benefits.

When Canadians were able to get through to an agent, they were often given contradictory information.

Many Canadians had apparently applied for the CERB and the CESB without first ascertaining their eligibility for the benefits.

CRA set up a tip line to allow Canadians to report suspected cheating in relation to COVID-19 cash aid programs.

According to CRA, all tips received were investigated.

Earlier, the Government of Canada had suggested passing legislation to impose fines and imprisonment on Canadians found guilty of lying on cash aid applications. The government decided not to push through with the idea, after pushback from the public and opposition parties.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government was only looking to protect the integrity of the emergency aid programs.

“We’re not looking to punish people who made honest mistakes,” Trudeau said.

CRA announced that applications would be reviewed to determine the eligibility of applicants, and any repayments will be determined by the next time Canadians file their income tax returns.

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