Two million Canadians could be cut off from benefits if they don't file taxes soon: CRA
OTTAWA -- Two million Canadians could have their benefits interrupted if they don't file their 2019 tax return quickly enough, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Many Canadians turned to government assistance when unemployment rates shot up during the COVID-19 pandemic, as physical distancing measures forced many employers to shutter their doors -- including some that will never reopen.
However, as first reported by Global News, Canadians will have to do the paperwork to ensure that the funds many are currently relying on will keep flowing.
"The Canada Revenue Agency recognizes that in the current pandemic environment it is imperative for benefits to continue without disruption to Canadians," said CRA spokesperson Dany Morin in a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca.
"We would like to remind Canadians to file as soon as possible to ensure their benefits continue in October. Not filing could result in negative impact to other provincial and municipal benefits that require an assessed tax return."
Morin explained that as a contingency plan amid the pandemic, the CRA is estimating the July 2020 to June 2021 entitlements for benefit recipients by using the information in their 2018 tax returns -- which is the method currently in place for distributing benefits to individuals who have yet to file their 2019 return
"The CRA estimates there is approximately two million individuals in this situation as of July 1st, 2020," Morin said of those who haven’t filed.
The government shifted this year's tax filing deadline from April 30 to June 1 to reckon with the impacts of COVID-19. Canadians were also told they had until September 1 to pay what they owe without any interest or penalty.
However, with the deadline having come and gone, the CRA is encouraging Canadians to file as soon as possible to ensure their benefits don’t get disrupted.
"There are a number of services available to help Canadians file their returns," Morin said.
"Currently there are approximately 225 virtual community volunteer income tax program (this includes the income tax assistance volunteer program clinics in Quebec). These clinics are open for those who meet the eligibility requirement."
Morin said additional information about those clinics is available on the CRA website.
CRA HAS RECEIVED NEARLY 10,000 POTENTIAL FRAUD TIPS
Meanwhile, among those who are still receiving pandemic-related benefits, the CRA has been given "more than 9,500" leads to date of cases where claimants may have been ineligible to receive the funds.
"As of July 10, 2020, the CRA had received more than 9,500 Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CERB) leads," said Jeremy Bellefeuille, the press secretary to the national revenue minister, in a statement sent to CTV News.
While all of these tips of potential fraud have been sent to the CRA, that doesn't mean they’re all confirmed incidents of fraud -- though Bellefeuille said the CRA will investigate every single one.
In addition to this, Bellefeuille confirmed there have been "more than 460,000" voluntary repayments of benefits to date.
He explained that there are "various reasons" why these voluntary repayments have been made, including "if applicants received 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."
As of July 12, over 20 million applications for CERB have been processed, with more than $59 billion in the benefit having been paid out.
With files from CTV News' Rachel Aiello and CTV National News' Kevin Gallagher