In 2022, Canadians faced a difficult situation due to high inflation rates and the rising cost of living, particularly those with lower incomes and households. As a result, the Canadian government intervened and provided a one-time assistance measure – the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit – to help meet the basic needs of Canadians.
It is evident that renters are much more likely to struggle with housing insecurity than homeowners, and this issue is only worsening. To address this, the government has recently opened applications for a new one-time financing, the Canada Housing Benefit, to provide additional assistance.
This post provides an overview of a one-time payment option that can help reduce financial stress.
What is the One-Time Top-Up to the Canada Housing Benefit?
The important thing to remember is that the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit is available until March 31, 2023.
The one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit is an opportunity offered by the government of Canada to assist low-income households with their rent payments. It provides applicants a tax-free one-time payment of $500 if they meet all the income and rent amount criteria.
You do not necessarily have to receive other housing-related benefits to qualify for this one-time payment. In addition, this one-time payment does not affect other federal income-based benefits, but its impact on provincial or territorial benefits varies by jurisdiction.
The important thing to remember is that the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit is available until March 31, 2023. Currently, the Canadian government has not made any announcements regarding renewals of the benefit in the future.
Who Can Apply for the One-Time Top-Up to the Canada Housing Benefit?
There are several eligibility requirements to apply for the one-time payment offered by the government. Here is the complete list:
- You were born on or before December 1, 2007 (at least 15 years old on December 1, 2022)
- Your principal residence was in Canada on December 1, 2022
- You were a resident of Canada in 2022 for tax year purposes (personal income taxes)
- You or a tax preparer filed your 2021 income tax return or statement of income (also, if you have a spouse or common-law partner, they should have filed their 2021 income tax return or statement of income too)
- In 2021, you had an adjusted family net income of:
- $35,000 or less for families
- $20,000 or less for individuals
- The 2022 eligible rent that you paid was:
- Paid in the 2022 calendar year
- Paid for any of your qualifying principal residences in 2022
- Equal to at least 30% of your 2021 adjusted family net income
You must meet all the abovementioned requirements to be eligible for the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit.
Remember that applications cannot be made on behalf of someone else. Also, you do not need other housing benefits to qualify for this one-time supplement.
What is Considered a Family or Individual?
To be considered a family for your net income, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Be married or in a common-law relationship and not separated for at least 90 days as of December 1, 2022
- Have received the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for a child under the age of 18 as of December 1, 2022
- Have claimed a deduction on line 30400 of your 2021 tax return for a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister under 18 years of age (or over 18 years of age in the case of a physical or mental disability)
Preparation for the One-Time Top-Up to the Canada Housing Benefit
Updating your direct deposit on your CRA My Account is the fastest way to have the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit funded and delivered.
If you are sure that you meet the eligibility criteria for the one-time payment, then it is time to prepare for and complete the application. First, you should ensure that you have filed your 2021 income taxes to apply for the benefit.
Then, you should gather all the rent information required for your application. This is the information you will need:
- Addresses of any principal residences in Canada in 2022
- Total rent you paid in the 2022 calendar year for these residences
- Name and contact details of the persons to whom the rent was paid
What’s more, you should ensure that you have access to your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account, as it provides you with the fastest way to apply for the benefit.
Additionally, it would be best if you were sure that your direct deposit information is up to date with the CRA, as it is the fastest way to have the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit funded and delivered.
How to Apply for the One-Time Top-Up to the Canada Housing Benefit
As mentioned earlier, the deadline for the application is March 31, 2023. The primary application method is through your CRA My Account, but have everything prepared beforehand. It will typically take 5 to 10 business days for the payment to be processed.
If you do not have a CRA My Account, you can sign in or register for a My Service Canada Account (MSCA) to access your CRA My Account.
If you cannot sign in to or register for a CRA My Account or My Service Canada Account, you may still be able to apply through the online application form. However, you should note that using this form will result in 6 to 11 business days of processing time.
If none of the mentioned methods work, the last option is to apply for the benefit by phone. You should call 800-282-8079 to verify your identity before applying. The processing period will be between 7 and 12 days going through this method.
Impacts on Taxes and Other Benefits
The one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit is not taxable. In other words, you will not need to report the one-time payment on your income tax return.
In the case of other benefits, the good news is that the one-time benefit does not reduce other federal income-tested benefits such as the Canada Workers Benefit, Canada Child Benefit, Goods and Services Tax Credit, and Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Impacts on provincial or territorial benefits delivered by the provinces will be determined at the discretion of each province or territory.
What If Your Application is Selected for Review?
The CRA regularly checks to see if recipients are entitled to the payment they applied for. For example, they might select your application for review and contact you by mail to ask for additional information. You must provide the requested documents within 30 days after you receive the letter; otherwise, you may have to repay the one-time housing top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit.
The CRA may ask you to provide at least one of these documents for the property you rented:
- Rent receipts for each month in which you paid rent
- A letter from your landlord
You can submit your documents online through your CRA My Account, fax, or mail. Just remember to attach your SIN number and the reference number found on the letter you received from the CRA.
The CRA may then verify the authenticity of any documents you provided and call you or your landlord to confirm your submitted information. Ultimately, they will send you a letter to let yw about their decision once they have completed the review.
What If You Disagree with the Decision?
If your application is denied and you disagree with it, you are allowed to ask for another review within 90 days of the date of the decision.
When attempting to request a second review, your request must include the following:
- The reasons why you disagree with the decision
- Any relevant new documents, new facts, or correspondence
- Your current home address and current phone number
If you disagree with the results of the second review, too, you can apply to the Federal Court for a judicial review of the CRA within 30 days after the second review decision.
Returning the Payment
If your situation has changed since you initially applied or made an honest mistake when applying, you will need to return the payment. Any payment made to anyone who is later found ineligible must be repaid.
If you mistakenly received a payment you did not apply for, you should return or repay the benefit to the CRA online, by mail, or in person. You can also call the CRA to report a benefits application made on your behalf without your knowledge.
If you cannot repay the payment in full, you may contact the CRA to help you arrange to pay your debt over time. The CRA does not charge interest on one-time top-ups to the Canada Housing Benefit debts.
The one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit is a financial supplement offered by the Government of Canada to low-income renters who cannot deal with rent comfortably. This benefit is provided in the form of a tax-free payment of $500 to applicants with an adjusted family net income of $20,000 or less for individuals and $35,000 or less for families.
The CRA uses a complete set of existing compliance tools to verify the identity and eligibility of the applicants, including an upfront verification of income, age, and residency. If you are eligible for the aid, you have time to submit your documents until the end of this March.
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