How Can I Manage My CERB Repayments?

Managing CERB Repayments: A Comprehensive Guide

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on economies worldwide, leading to job losses and financial distress. In Canada, the government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to provide temporary financial support to those affected. However, many recipients are now grappling with the question: How can I manage my CERB repayments? This article offers a comprehensive guide on managing CERB repayments and navigating the complexities of this process.

What is CERB?

First, let’s understand what CERB is. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was a temporary government initiative aimed at providing financial relief to Canadian workers who lost their jobs or experienced reduced work hours due to COVID-19. Eligible recipients could receive $2,000 for each four-week period, up to a maximum of 28 weeks. However, due to the rapid rollout of this benefit and some confusion around the eligibility criteria, many recipients found themselves in a position of having to repay some or all of the benefits they received.

Why Repay CERB?

There are several reasons why you might be asked to repay the CERB money you received. These include:

 

  • You applied for the CERB, but it was later determined that you weren’t eligible due to not meeting the income requirements.
  • You earned more income than you anticipated when you received CERB, such as resuming employment earlier than anticipated or receiving retroactive pay from your employer.
  • You received CERB from both Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the same eligibility period.

 

If any of these situations apply to you, the CRA will likely contact you to arrange repayment of the CERB funds.

Repayment Deadlines

The deadlines for CERB repayment depend on when you received the benefit. For CERB payments received through Service Canada, the deadline to repay without incurring penalties or interest is December 31, 2022. For CERB payments received through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the deadline to repay without penalty or interest is December 31, 2023. It’s crucial to adhere to these deadlines to avoid additional financial burdens.

Repayment Process

The repayment process for CERB is relatively straightforward. If you need to make a repayment, you’ll receive a notice from the government indicating the amount you need to repay. The government has set up a repayment plan that considers an individual’s financial situation and ability to repay the overpaid CERB benefits. You can log into your CRA account online to make a lump payment through your online banking or receive information on where to mail a cheque.

Repayment Assistance

If you’re unable to repay the CERB due to circumstances beyond your control, you may qualify for CERB repayment assistance. This could involve postponing your COVID-19 benefit debt until your financial situation improves. To inquire about this, visit the CRA website and complete a simple online form. This form will ask for information about your financial situation and ability to repay the overpaid benefits. Based on this information, the government will determine the best repayment option for you.

Wage Garnishment

The CRA has the authority to garnish your wages over tax debt. However, they have indicated that they will not use this as a means to collect CERB repayment. This could change at any point, so it’s essential to have a payment plan in place. The CRA can garnish up to 50% of your income as an employee or 100% as a contractor without taking you to court. They also have the right to recover money owed to them by taking it from your business and personal bank accounts directly without your prior permission.

Professional Advice

Understanding the CERB repayment process and available assistance is crucial to avoid future financial difficulties. If you have any questions about the repayment process or expectations, consider seeking professional advice from a financial advisor or tax expert.

Licensed Insolvency Trustees

If you’re experiencing CRA debt issues, consider speaking with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). They are the only professionals who can negotiate with the CRA on your behalf. They will assess your financial situation with you and provide the best solution for your needs.

FAQs Related to CERB Repayment

Here are some common questions related to CERB repayment:

 

What is the CERB Repayment program, and who is eligible for it?
The CERB Repayment program allows individuals who received CERB during the COVID-19 pandemic to repay any amounts they were ineligible for or received in error.

How do I know if I need to repay the CERB?
If you received the CERB and later found out that you were not eligible, you may need to repay it.

What is the process for repaying the CERB?
The process for repaying CERB varies depending on how you received it. If you received it through the CRA, you could repay it online or by mailing a cheque to the CRA.

Can I make a partial repayment of the CERB?
Yes, you can make a partial repayment of CERB if you can’t afford to repay the full amount.

What happens if I can’t repay the CERB by the deadline?
If you can’t repay the CERB by the deadline, you may face penalties and interest charges. The CRA may also take other actions to collect the debt.

 

Conclusion

Managing your CERB repayments can seem overwhelming, especially during these financially uncertain times. However, by understanding the repayment process, deadlines, and assistance options, you can effectively navigate this task. Remember, you’re not alone in this. If you need help, don’t hesitate to seek advice from financial professionals or reach out to the CRA to discuss your situation.

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