Pandemic benefits: CRA had to cancel $246 million in debt

The federal government has had to forgive at least $246 million in debt for thousands of Canadians it says received benefits during the pandemic for which they were not eligible.

Since 2022, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been recovering money from Canadians who mistakenly received benefits such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

The government has withheld tax refunds and other benefits in an effort to recoup the money sent to these people. L’BOW declared to CBC News that by the end of last year, it had collected about $1.8 billion in erroneous pandemic-related benefit payments.

Many taxpayers, however, disputed the government’s assessment of their eligibility for these benefits. Hundreds of them even took the government to court.

L’BOW said that in April it forgave the debts of approximately 27,000 people who had been deemed ineligible but were later verified as eligible. These figures only include pandemic-related benefits that were administered by the revenue agency.

Part of the program of the CERB was administered by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). This ministry declared to CBC News that it was not tracking the number of benefit debts it had forgiven.

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The CRA confirmed that it has canceled the debts of approximately 27,000 people who were originally found to be ineligible but were later verified as eligible. (Archive photo)

Photo: The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld

Cris Best is a tax lawyer in Toronto. He is not surprised by the number of debt cancellations that have been issued.

The latter has heard from several Canadians who believe they have been unfairly targeted by eligibility exams. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a lot of inconsistencyhe said.

Taxpayers who have received notice from the government that their eligibility has been revoked may request two reviews of their file. Their only recourse thereafter is to go to court.

According to Mr. Best, it is extremely difficult to plead one’s case to theBOW once an initial decision has been made, as there is a reversal of the burden of proof in tax law.

You are essentially guilty before you are innocentsummarizes the tax lawyer. CRA can basically assume facts, and it does, and then it’s up to the taxpayer to refute those facts… It’s not a very fair fight.”,”text”:”CRA can basically assume facts, and that’s what it does, and then it’s up to the taxpayer to refute those facts… It’s not a very fair fight.”}}”>L’BOW can basically assume facts, and that’s what it does, and then it’s up to the taxpayer to refute those facts… It’s not a very fair fight.

Some people are frustrated with the revision process

Jason Harth confides that he witnessed the difficulty of dealing withBOW when he tried to help his daughter plead her case. It was a real quagmirehe says about the procedure.

This resident of Cambridge, Ontario, points out that his daughter had applied for the program CERB when she was laid off during the pandemic. She was able to find a job about nine months later.

But about a year later, the woman began receiving notices that her eligibility was being reviewed, Mr. Hart. The latter helped his daughter provide the necessary documents to prove that she was eligible.

After working with theBOW, Jason Harth found that her daughter had received some payments from the CERB additional, which she agreed to reimburse.

But when a final notice came a few weeks later, he adds, the eligibility assessment indicated just the opposite. The document argued that her daughter was entitled to the additional payments she received, but not the money she was awarded for the period she was laid off.

I thought, “Someone didn’t read that right.”

A quote from Jason Harth

He and his daughter contacted the agency several times. They were told there was nothing they could do, that the woman would have to repay $16,000.

The problem was only resolved when Jason Harth contacted the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman.

ARC finally woke up and called us to tell us: “Yes, we see there was a mistake”, but she didn’t provide an explanation”,”text”:”The ARC finally woke up and called us to tell us : “Yes, we see there was an error”, but she didn’t provide an explanation”}}”>L’BOW finally woke up and called us to say, “Yes, we see there was a mistake,” but she didn’t provide an explanationindicates the father of the family. I don’t understand how something so simple could go so wrong.

An Ottawa resident, Kelly Stewart, also experienced its share of difficulties. She says that theBOW found her ineligible for the benefits she received, even though she provided the agency with documentation proving otherwise.

I feel like my case has been handled very poorly from the startshe says.

mrs Stewart had to send his documents twice because theBOW had claimed that his first application had been lost in the agency’s mail room. She also stated that the file numbers on the two decision notices she received do not match the file number she was originally assigned.

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The Minister of National Revenue, Marie-Claude Bibeau (Archive photo)

Photo: The Canadian Press / PATRICK DOYLE

According to a spokesperson for the Minister of National Revenue, Marie-Claude Bibeau, the department believes that the validation process is going well.

CRA sent notices of review to some individuals deemed ineligible, many Canadians were able to demonstrate their eligibility using the appropriate documents”,”text”:”After the CRA sent notices of review to some individuals deemed ineligible, many Canadians were able to demonstrate their eligibility using the appropriate documents”}}”>After theBOW sent notices of review to some individuals deemed ineligible, many Canadians were able to demonstrate their eligibility using the appropriate documentssays Ms. Bibeau’s press secretary, Simon Lafortune, in an email sent to CBC News.

CRA on this issue and we will continue to ensure that all eligible Canadians receive the benefits to which they are entitled”,”text”:”We are more than satisfied with the CRA validation process on this issue and we will continue to ensure that all eligible Canadians receive the benefits to which they are entitled”}}”>We are more than satisfied with the validation process of theBOW on this issue and we will continue to ensure that all eligible Canadians receive the benefits to which they are entitledhe mentions.

With information from Darren Majorof CBC News

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