Repaying CERB (Canada's Emergency Response Benefit)

This is a confusing time to be sure. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was announced back in March as part of the plan to address the needs of Canadians who had suddenly lost their income as a direct result of COVID19. Easily accessible, easily administered and changed several times to expand eligibility. Some 10 milllion Canadians have tapped into the CERB in recent weeks because they lost their income source either through employment or self employment as a result of COVID-19. 

It was easy to apply for CERB because a pandemic is a good reason to make the administration of such a benefit simple and easy. Since CERB is applied for in 4 week periods, it's also easy to stop CERB payments by NOT reapplying. 

There are also situations where the CERB needs to be repaid


Much of the work to verify that individuals are actually eligible for CERB will be done down the road, post pandemic. In cases where claimants are found to be ineligible, they will be contacted to make arrangements to repay any applicable amounts. For instance, as part of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), CRA will be comparing employers’ payroll records with information provided by CERB claimants to ensure that individuals who have returned to work and who have therefore become ineligible did not actually receive CERB or they will be asked to repay those amounts. Some claimants will only after the fact, realize that they were ineligible and some may have applied for and received the CERB TWICE-once from CRA and once from Service Canada in respect of the same eligibility period.

CRA will be asking for those CERB payments to be repaid prior to Dec 31 which is in your best interest as well since CERB is taxable. The onus at the moment is on Canadians to be honest and return any CERB they are not entitled to so they don't run afoul of the rules. Should you need more time to repay CERB then you should ask before you extend your repayment past Dec 31/20. Call CRA re CERB at 1-800-959-2019 

The options available for returning or repaying CERB include by mailing a cheque made payable to Receiver General of Canada. Ensure that you note it is a repayment of CERB. and include your SIN# and the elibility period you are repaying. The address is: 

Revenue Processing – Repayment of CERB
Sudbury Tax Centre
1050 Notre Dame Avenue
Sudbury ON P3A 0C3

However, beginning May 11, the CRA will also allow taxpayers to repay the CERB using My Account.