The Canada Revenue Agency is reminding Canadians that it is offsetting taxpayer debt, and many parents have claimed that it’s affecting their child tax payments.
This process involves “proactively applying tax refunds and benefit payments (such as the GST/HST credit) to tax and other government debts.”
The agency issued the reminder on Wednesday morning. In May 2020, offsetting mechanisms were halted in response to the financial pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a temporary pause to relieve Canadians going through a difficult time.
This resumption of offsetting activities is not new. It began in October last year, and this week’s update only serves as a reminder to Canadians ahead of tax season.
The CRA describes this offsetting as “a standard operating procedure that was used pre-pandemic by the CRA to collect outstanding taxpayer debt.”
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Amid all this, Canadian parents who receive child tax from the government have taken to social media to complain about delayed payments, very late notices for reasons of non-payment, and missing payments altogether.
This is especially concerning since the CRA’s new release has a special section on how this COVID-19 debt clawback won’t affect Canada Child Benefit debt.
“It’s important to note that, unlike other benefits, the Canada child benefit (CCB) payment can only be used to offset a CCB debt,” the agency wrote. “Other types of child benefit payments can only be used to offset a debt related to the same benefit.”
An Ontario-based stay-at-home parent of two, Cassandra Lynn Borges, posted a video on TikTok detailing her story. She says she received a notice from the CRA around 3 am, just hours before she was scheduled to receive her child tax payment, which never came.
“After spending two hours and 40 minutes on the phone with [the CRA], they’ve let me know that there was a clawback from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and they’ve taken my entire benefit for the month,” Borges complains.
“I was notified today that it wasn’t coming today. And so I said to them on the phone, with bills, groceries, things coming out of your bank account, how can you take the entirety of somebody’s benefit that they’re supposed to be getting? Like, there was no option to pay for it upfront? There was no option to set up a payment plan to put it on a credit card?”
@cassandralynnborg No notice to prepare… got to love the #CRA #ontario #moms #ccb #childtaxbenefit #canada #goverment #stayathomemom #fyp #fypシ ♬ original sound – Cassie
Borges said she was told that this is the only month her family will experience this and is thankful that she’s in a stable place to weather this storm financially.
“I’ve been reading so many things online about people who have rent due, payments coming out of their accounts, or have been waiting to buy groceries for their kids. Until today, without any notice, their entire benefit amount has been taken from them. My heart goes out to all of you.”
Several other parents have claimed the same thing happened to them — no CCB payments, low payments, and late notices. TikTok user @angeleyes2004ca also posted a video, which garnered several comments from people who collected CERB but still got their full CCB payment.
@angeleyes2004ca March Child Tax – so many didnt get or got way less! Thanks for the notice CRA/GOVERNMENT of Canada #childtaxbenefit #canada #cra #childtax #ccb ♬ original sound – angeleyes2004ca
Others are stressing that the CRA has been sending notices about the tax clawback for months. A deduction is not surprising if you owed money or were overpaid during the pandemic. What is surprising, however, is that it’s being taken out of CCB payments.
@marymarypearl #ccb #childtax #deductions #explanation ♬ original sound – SW
“Our family depends on that money!” said Canadian parent Taylor, who made a TikTok claiming she only received $235 of her usual $1,100 CCB payment. “Our rent is ridiculous, food’s ridiculous, gas is ridiculous — we can’t survive without that money!”
Like Borges, Taylor says she also got a notice in the early hours of the morning — at 2 am.
@fire.medic.momma2.0 #stitch with @Tiffff Child Tax Should Not Be Allowed To Be Touched! 😡 #ccb #childtax #canada ♬ Mother – Meghan Trainor
“Offsets may impact some individuals who have already established a payment plan with the CRA,” the agency said. It also encouraged Canadians experiencing financial hardship to contact it immediately to discuss their options and advised against incurring government debt.
“Government debt can result from a change in eligibility for benefits and credits or an overpayment. The easiest way to avoid incurring debt is to let CRA know as soon as possible when your situation changes as you may no longer be eligible for certain benefits or credits,” the agency stated.
Daily Hive has contacted the CRA for a statement regarding CCB payments and will update this story when the agency responds.
Were you expecting a child tax payment you did not get or only received partially? Did you speak to the CRA about it? Let us know your story in the comments below or email us at [email protected].