If you’ve received COVID-19 benefit amounts from the Canada Revenue Agency but aren’t sure if you qualify, beware the tax man is coming.
When the pandemic was announced in 2020, the Canadian government committed billions to aid citizens who were thrown out of their jobs.
In that flurry of activity, hundreds of thousands of Canadians have benefited, some even when they shouldn’t have.
Now, the CRA is looking back two years after releasing that money.
Greg Bates is one of many people who recently opened his email inbox and found a letter from the organization informing him that money needed to be repaid.
“I was completely shocked,” he told Nation World News in an interview on Monday.
“I got an assessment back in 2020 that they knew they owed me $2,000, they’re going to go a couple of weeks without sending me any money to fill that gap. So there’s confusion.”
In the notice, the CRA states that Betts was “paid more profits” than he was eligible to receive.
It also includes details on how much is due and how to arrange payment, if necessary.
Bates says that now, two years after the money went into his account, he felt he was “free and clear.”
“Then it appears and there is less confusion than more anger. I am confused by the message – I do not understand what this debt is.”
He said that it has also caused a lot of stress in his life.
“You’re suddenly being billed for money, you know, I’m not going to say I have, but it’s coming in as an unexpected bill.”
A Calgary accountant says some people could have avoided those “unexpected bills” if they had just done the proper paperwork.
It is not too late to do so.
Doug Gablehaus said, “They should start with some of their paperwork and get it back as far as they can.”
“I’m currently working with one of my clients, they were asked for their $2,000 back, I’ve reopened their claim, I just moved back. And I asked them to get back over $10,000. The paperwork has been submitted.
reach out to experts
Financial experts say Canadians who feel overwhelmed by the issue need to heed the letter and reach out to the CRA.
“I know I’m talking to people like myself – that piece of paper weighs 5,000 pounds,” said Taz Rajan, with the Bromwich+Smith insolvency trustee.
“But, believe me, it will be in your best interest to open it.”
Rajan says that the CRA is ready for talks on this issue and that is what people should do first.
“When you lend money to a CRA, the CRA has more rights than other lenders,” he said. “They can garnish your paycheck, they can garnish your bank account, they can charge interest and fines. So, it can sound very, very scary.”
In addition to speaking with CRAs, Rajan suggests anyone who is concerned about their condition reach out to businesses like them.
“How do we make this work for your unique situation and your financial situation and then the CRA doesn’t have to be so big, nasty and scary?
“I’m ready to normalize these conversations.”
A sign is seen outside the Canada Revenue Agency on May 10, 2021 in Ottawa. Canadian Press/Adrian Wilde
The CRA, in response to inquiries about the issue, said it understood that the COVID-19 pandemic was “difficult for many Canadians.”
It was up to the applicants to tell the truth about their circumstances, it said, in order to disseminate the money as quickly as possible to those who need it.
“The Government of Canada has selected a verification-based approach to enable the rapid delivery of COVID-19 personal benefits to millions of Canadians. This means they are self-provided when they apply for benefits. declare the information to be made, and the CRA may verify this information at the time of filing and/or at a later date,” the emailed statement read.
The agency confirmed that the letter received by Bates and several other Canadians is authentic and that they have debts on their CRA accounts that will need to be settled.
It also said that it strives to help Canadians struggling with any type of situation.
“We want to help affected individuals resolve any issues and our agents will work with them on a case-by-case basis. CRA has helped individuals meet their tax obligations during these difficult times, including flexible payment arrangements. The provisions have been expanded to help in this.”
Anyone who wishes to make a formal request for reconsideration may do so by contacting the CRA within 30 days from the date of intimation of the loan.
The CRA said those who have applied for benefits in good faith will not be penalized.