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COVID-19 ECONOMIC RESPONSE PLAN – KEY POINTS FOR INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES  


INDIVIDUALS

 Tax Return Due Date Deferral: The personal tax filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020. However, those expecting refunds or benefits (such as the GST/HST credit, Guaranteed Income Supplement and Canada Child Benefit) should file as early as possible. The government release encourages Canadians not to delay their filings in order to ensure their income-tested benefits are accurately computed.

 Tax Payment Deferral: Taxpayers may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 (also including installments) and before September 2020. The government documents indicate that payment will be deferred “until after August 31, 2020”, which seems to imply payment will be due on September 1. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Emergency Response Benefit legislation combines the previously announced “Emergency Care Benefit” and the “Emergency Support Benefits”.

Eligibility

While the ERP describes the payments as support for those who are infected, in isolation, are caring for a family member who is sick, or are required to care for children due to school closures but are not eligible for EI sickness benefits, a March 25, 2020 Department of Finance update notes that it is also now available for: workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work; and wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who are not eligible for conventional EI benefits.

The legislation requires the applicant to be an “eligible worker”, which means that they must be:

  • at least 15 years of age;
  • resident in Canada; and
  • for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day on which they make an application had a total income of at least $5,000 from
    • employment;
    • self-employment;
    • certain EI benefits (maternity and parental benefits); and
    • allowances, money or other benefits paid to the person under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the person of one or more of their new-born children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption.

The worker, whether employed or self-employed, must cease to work for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment.

For the period of cessation of work, the applicant cannot receive income from the sources listed above, and cannot receive any other EI benefits.  Further, workers that quit voluntarily are not eligible.

Benefits

These income support payments can be made for a maximum of 16 weeks (previously noted as 15 weeks in the ERP).  Amounts are determined by the Minister.  Further, up to $2,000 would be provided per month (previously announced as up to $900 biweekly).  These payments are not subject to law relating to bankruptcy or insolvency and are not garnishable.

Application process

A worker may apply for an income support payment for any four-week period falling within the period beginning on March 15, 2020 and ending on October 3, 2020 (payments are made every four weeks).  Canadians would begin to receive their payments within 10 days of application.  The rest of the application process has not yet been announced but will be made available in the first week of April, 2020.

Other notes

The legislation does not exclude shareholders or their family members as long as they meet the income requirements.

Low/Modest Income Individuals

  • A one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) will be made. This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts and result in an average boost to income for those benefitting by close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
  • The maximum annual Canada Child Benefit payment amounts would be increased by $300 per child for the 2019-20 benefit year. This will be added to the May, 2020 benefit cheque.
  • Students: A six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans will be provided.
  • Minimum RRIF Withdrawals: The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) will be reduced by 25% for 2020. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.


BUSINESSES

Tax Payment Extension: Businesses may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Other Payment and Filing Extensions: No comment was made about changing the filing and payments dates for payroll, GST/HST, and other non-income tax items.

 CRA Audit Activity: CRA will not contact any small or medium businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the CRA will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

 Liaison Officer Service: The Liaison Officer service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.

 Payroll Subsidies: The government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

 

OTHER FILINGS AND ADMINISTRATION

 Trust Filing Due Date Deferral: For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.

T3 Slips Submission Date: No specific statement was made regarding the deadline for filing T3 slips reporting income taxable to the trust beneficiaries.

Other Returns: Many taxpayers are required to file other tax and information returns. No mention was made of these, including partnership returns and NR4 reporting slips.

 EFILE Signatures: In order to reduce the necessity for taxpayers and tax preparers to meet in person, effective immediately the CRA will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary administrative measure. This provision applies to authorization forms T183 or T183CORP.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

 Individuals: Canada’s large banks have confirmed that this support will include up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. Banks have affirmed their commitment to working with customers to provide flexible solutions, on a case-by-case basis, for managing through hardships caused by recent developments. This may include situations such as pay disruption, childcare disruption, or illness.

 Businesses

  • The Business Credit Availability Program will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. The near-term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.
  • The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, effective immediately. This action will allow Canada’s large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.
  • For Exporters: The Minister of Finance would now be able to determine the limit of the Canada Account in order to deal with exceptional circumstances. The Canada Account is administered by Export Development Canada (EDC) and is used by the government to support exporters when deemed to be in the national interest.
  • Interest Rates: The Bank of Canada cut the prime interest rate to 0.75%. Other banks have also reduced rates.

As the situation develops further, there may be additional government measures, or modifications to those already announced.

 

 

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