Did you receive double CERB payments? The CRA wants its money back

The Canadian Revenue Agency says it’s coming to collect from applicants who received double Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement to Global News, the CRA said they identified Canadians who may have applied for the CERB through both Service Canada and the CRA, which would have resulted in double payments.

“Canadians can apply for the CERB through Service Canada or through the CRA, but not both,” the CRA said in a statement to Global News.

“The CRA is sending letters to the individuals who have benefited from CERB payment(s) issued by the CRA and by Service Canada that they are required to repay an amount to the CRA.”

As of Oct. 4, the response benefit, which has since been replaced by several new programs such as the Canadian Recovery Benefit, had doled out $81.64 billion in benefits after processing more than 27.5 million applications for Canadians who were unable to work due to the pandemic.

“More than 890,000 payments” have been made through the CRA’s online service portal so far, the agency’s statement read.

The program has closed, but Canadians can still retroactively apply for the last pay period from Aug. 30 to Sept. 26 until Dec. 2. Prior to its replacement, it provided $2,000 per month for up to 16 weeks to Canadians who could prove they’d lost income due to the pandemic.

The CRA said they recognized that some Canadians may have made an “honest mistake” thinking they could apply both through Service Canada and the agency’s website.

Canadians who qualified for employment insurance on March 15 or later were still eligible for CERB, and “those EI claims were automatically transferred” to the response benefit, the agency said.

“This led to some clients, inadvertently applying for financial support at both Service Canada and the CRA in the first few days of the CERB program,” the statement read.

Canadians who applied in “good faith” only to discover they were ineligible at a later date are still required to pay the CRA back, but “without penalties or interest.”

However, they noted that in “situations when an individual has the capacity to pay and refuses to reach a mutually acceptable payment arrangement, the CRA may take legal action.”

Anyone looking to repay the CRA can return the money back to the department they applied from on the agency’s website.

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