CRA should warn Canadians applying for benefits about risk of clawbacks: watchdog

Click to play video: 'Tax Filing Tips'
Tax Filing Tips
Tax filing season officially began on February 21st. CRA’s Dawn Kennedy joins us with tax filing tips, what’s new this tax filing season, and what you need to know if you received COVID-19 benefits. – Feb 22, 2022

Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson Francois Boileau says the Canada Revenue Agency should warn Canadians applying for benefits about the risk of potential clawbacks to other income supports.

In his latest annual report, Boileau recommended that the CRA make it clear to applicants that benefits that increase their income could affect other benefits they receive, including provincial benefits.

Boileau said during a news conference Tuesday that the recommendation was inspired by the experience of some seniors during the pandemic who saw their guaranteed income supplements cut because they accepted COVID-19 benefits.

“We thought that it might happen again in the future,” Boileau said.

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The federal government issued one-time payments in April to compensate seniors affected by such clawbacks.

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Boileau’s report provided other recommendations to the CRA to improve its service delivery and highlighted that 40 per cent of the inquiries his office received last year related to COVID-19 benefits.

The ombudsperson also raised concerns about vulnerable individuals not filing their taxes and therefore missing out on benefits.

Boileau said he would be providing recommendations in the future to address that.

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His report notes that while the CRA has publicly reported 93.5 per cent of Canadians participate in the tax system, academics estimate the proportion to be slightly lower.

“We’re still trying to fully understand the problem and actually propose concrete solutions, so that’s why there’s no recommendations this year. But you bet there will be at another point,” Boileau said.


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