During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which provided temporary financial support to eligible Canadians. Due to the speed of the rollout, there is the possibility that some recipients may have received benefits in error. For instance, if the recipient’s circumstance changed after the application was initially submitted.
According to CRA, payments made to anyone who is later found to be ineligible will need to be returned. The repayment process can be found on the CRA website.
For overpayments related to other government benefits including, but not limited to, Employment Insurance (EI), Training Allowance Payments (TAPS), Canada Pension Plan (CPP), or Grants and Contributions (G&C), there is also a repayment process which can be found on the CRA website.
When a practitioner identifies a potential error, such as an overpayment or payment ineligibility, the error should be communicated to the client. The client can then resolve the situation by following the repayment processes outlined above. Advice to the client about repayment should be documented in the practitioner’s files.
When repayment is the proposed course of action, the practitioner can follow up in the subsequent tax year to check for repayment.
With the multitude of government programs, helping clients understand eligibility requirements may require additional time and diligence. Planning ahead can help manage the workflow and ensure that clients are fully prepared when tax season comes around.