Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has introduced historic measures to support Canadians, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB helped more than eight million Canadians pay for things like food and rent when we first asked people to stay home and flatten the curve.
The CERB’s eligibility criteria were made as broad and inclusive as possible so that workers who needed support could get it; especially for the self-employed whose income takes different forms.
As announced in February, self-employed workers who applied for the CERB and would have qualified based on their gross income are not required to repay the benefit, provided they also met all other eligibility criteria. Today, the Government of Canada announced further details on how this approach will be applied.
“The Government of Canada remains committed to supporting Canadians as we continue to tackle one of our biggest historical challenges,” Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue said. “Self employed workers who applied for the CERB in good faith can apply to have the Government reimburse their CERB repayments. This will help to ensure that self-employed individuals continue to receive financial support throughout the pandemic.”
Self-employed workers whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 and who applied for the CERB will not be required to repay the CERB, as long as:
- They have filed their 2019 and 2020 income tax returns by December 31, 2022;
- Their gross self-employment income was $5,000 or more in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to their initial application; and
- They met all other CERB eligibility criteria.
The CRA will review the 2019 and 2020 income tax returns of workers in this situation to verify that these conditions are met.
“From day one, we said we would be there to help Canadians get through this difficult time and that’s what we did. Emergency supports like the CERB have helped millions of Canadians get through the most difficult and uncertain times of this pandemic,” Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion said. “The announcement demonstrates our continued support to Canadians and their families. By taking these steps, we are giving certainty to self-employed workers who applied in good faith for the CERB.”
Starting on May 27, 2021, self-employed workers who meet the remission order criteria and who had voluntarily repaid all or part of the CERB to the CRA or Service Canada can request a reimbursement of their payments only from the CRA. These workers can do so by completing the CRA’s CERB Reimbursement Application for Self-Employed Individuals form and submitting it to the CRA electronically or by mail.
The CRA will begin processing applications after June 15, 2021. Eligible Canadians who repaid the CERB can expect reimbursements within approximately 90 days of submitting their applications to the CRA.