Raising a family has only gotten more costly in recent years. And, with the latest coronavirus, COVID-19, creating a lot of uncertainties, it’s become more difficult for parents to care for their children.
That’s why it’s vital to tap into programs or benefits that can help with child-care expenses and ease your family’s financial strain.
For Canadians with kids, one of the most essential benefits to take advantage of is the Canada Child Benefit (CCB).
Here’s a breakdown of what CCB generally includes and what additional benefits you can get from it if you’re financially impacted by COVID-19.
What is the Canada Child Benefit (CCB)?
The CCB is a monthly, non-taxable payment provided by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
In order to get it, parents must file their taxes. The parent who’s primarily responsible for the upbringing of their child(ren), must also apply for CCB.
Who qualifies for the Canada Child Benefit?
Married, common-law couples and single parents of children under the age of 18 can apply. But in order to qualify, you must:
- live with the child you’re raising and be the primary caregiver, and
- be a Canadian resident who files taxes;
You must also be one of the following:
- a Canadian citizen,
- a permanent resident,
- a protected person,
- a temporary resident whose lived in Canada for the past 18 months and who has a valid permit in the 19th month, or
- an indigenous person who meets the definition of “Indian” in the Indian Act.
How does CCB work in the case of divorce or shared custody?
If you share custody with another parent, you’ll each get 50% of the full benefit.
Shared custody is when a child spends at least 40% of the time with both parents. If custody changes, you must inform the CRA so that payments can be re-directed.
When should you apply for the Canada Child Benefit?
Parents can apply as soon as their child is born.
Was your child born in Canada? If so, there’s a section on the birth registry form allows the vital statistics agency to share the information with the CRA. When you submit the form, the Automated Benefits Application sends your child benefits application to the CRA.
When can you expect CCB payments?
If the CRA approves your application, you may get a notice or first payment within eight weeks.
What if you didn't apply for the CCB when your child was born?
You can apply online using your personal CRA account.
How do you claim the CCB if your child was born outside of Canada?
In this case, you must complete the Canada Child Benefits Form RC66.
If you’re applying for the first time, you might need to provide supporting documentation. That might include proof of immigration status and proof of birth for children born outside of Canada.
How much is the child benefit in Canada, and is it taxable income?
The CCB is non-taxable. The amount you’ll receive depends on the number of children you have and their ages. It also depends on your adjusted family net income for the previous tax year.
As of 2020, parents can receive up to $553.25 per child per month. That’s if your children are under six. But parents with kids between ages six and 17 can receive up to $466.83.
You can use the Child and Family Benefits Calculator to get an estimate of the amount you may receive.
Are there other deductions or benefits that parents can get?
The child disability benefit is a tax-free monthly payment similar to the Canada Child Benefit. To get it, a medical practitioner must certify that your child has a severe and prolonged physical or mental impairment.
- Once approved by the CRA, you’ll get the child disability benefit automatically if your child is already getting the CCB.
- Caregivers can receive up to $236 per month for each eligible child, depending on their income.
There’s also the GST/HST credit. It’s a non-taxable amount paid quarterly given to low-income families. It’s meant to help compensate for all or some of the sales tax that they pay.
- Parents can collect this credit on behalf of their children. The total amount depends on the number of eligible children in the family.
Financial support for families impacted by COVID-19
The government of Canada introduced an economic response plan to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s how it affects CCB and GSTC.
- Goods and Services Tax Credit special payment. Low- or modest-income families will get a one-time special payment via the Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC) by May 2020. This means an average boost of $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples. Here’s more information on the special GSTC.
- Canadian Child Benefit increase. Families with kids, who may need extra support, will see their annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) increase by $300 per child. (But this is only for the 2019-2020 benefit year.) Here’s more information about the CCB increase.
- Need more support? Here are some additional financial assistance options from the government
Filing taxes during the COVID-19 pandemic
With the COVID-19 situation constantly changing, you may wonder when you’ll get around to filing your taxes. The government has extended the tax-filing deadline this year to June 1, 2020.
But please note that the CRA encourages people who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the CCB not to delay the filing of their taxes. Why? So that they’ll have enough time to determine how much you’re entitled to for the 2020-21 benefit year.
- Stay informed of the government’s COVID-19 economic measures by checking this portal regularly.
Please note: The information regarding government support for COVID-19 is accurate at the time of publication (dated above). But with the situation around coronavirus changing frequently, you may to visit the Government of Canada’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Talking to an advisor for help
Government benefits can assist with the costs of raising a family, particularly in challenging times. For more information on child-care benefits, as well as budgeting for your family, consider speaking with an advisor. (Most advisors will now provide consultations by phone or video chat.)
An advisor can help you:
- make well-informed decisions,
- build a plan that meets your long-term goals,
- feel assured in times of uncertainty, knowing you’ve taken steps to prepare, and
- avoid making emotionally-driven decisions about your savings.
- Find an advisor near you.
*This article is meant to provide general information only. Please talk to a qualified professional – like a lawyer, accountant or tax professional – before acting on any of the information in this article. Unless specifically stated, the values and rates presented in this article aren’t guaranteed.