Benefits being reviewed?

If you receive a letter from CRA that the agency is reviewing your benefits, it could be a routine check.

As per CRA, it sends about 350,000 such letters every year to “make sure Canadians are receiving the benefits and credits they’re entitled to.”

The letter or questionnaire may ask for documents to confirm that the information in our records is right and up to date. For example, we may ask you to validate your marital status, where you live, and who cares for your children.

It’s important that you reply and send all the information requested as soon as possible. This will help the CRA review your file quickly and easily. If you need help, we’ll work with you to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Taxpayers usually have 45 calendar days to respond, and CRA says it will tell taxpayers how to send documents in its letter.

If you can’t get the documents we’re asking for or if you need more time to reply, it’s important that you call the number provided in your letter.

If you don’t reply, CRA says that “your benefits will stop and you may be asked to repay benefits that were previously sent to you.”

Personal Emergency Leave vs Family Medical Leave

On November 27, 2017, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act became law, resulting in a number of changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA). The new rules were in force as of January 2018. Read a complete summary of the changes to the ESA.

Personal Emergency Leave

Most employees have the right to take up to 10 days of job-protected leave each calendar year due to illness, injury, death and certain emergencies and urgent matters. This is known as personal emergency leave. Special rules apply to some occupations.

The personal emergency leave can be because of your needs or the needs of a family member. And you can take up to 10 days even if you started working for your employer partway through the year. If you only take part of a day, your employer can count it as one of your 10 days.

You have the right to be paid for 2 days of personal emergency leave each year if you’ve been working for your employer at least one week. If you take part of a day off as personal emergency leave, your employer still has to pay you for the hours you worked.

Family Medical Leave

Family medical leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period.

All employees, whether full-time, part-time, permanent, or term contract, who are covered by the ESA are entitled to family medical leave.

There is no requirement that an employee be employed for a particular length of time, or that the employer employ a specified number of employees in order for the employee to qualify for family medical leave.

Under the federal Employment Insurance Act, 26 weeks of employment insurance benefits (called “compassionate care benefits“) may be paid to EI eligible employees who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks and who requires care or support from one or more family members.


Difference between Common Law and Marriage

You have more rights and responsibilities when you get married. If you are not married, you don’t get some rights no matter how long you and your partner have lived together. You have to go through a legal marriage ceremony to be married.

There is no real difference between common law and marriage in terms of custody, access and support claims

Married couples and common-law couples usually have the same rights related to children including rights to custody, access and child support.

The only difference in terms of support is the act that is used. The Divorce Act and the Federal Child Support Guidelines govern a divorced couples, however, the Family Law Act and the Ontario Child Support guidelines govern a common law couples. The requirements for making out a claim for support are the same regardless of the act, and the amounts listed in the guidelines are also almost identical.

There are different rights between a marriage and a common law relationship to the assets and liabilities, matrimonial home

Assets and Liabilities

When you get married, the law assumes you are in an equal partnership. When a marriage breaks down the Family Law Act provides you and your partner with a regime to share assets and liabilities. The assets and liabilities of each spouse at the date of marriage and the date of separation will be used to calculate a payment from one spouse to the other.

A common law relationship, on the other hand, has no regime to share assets and liabilities. Common-law partners only have to share the property you own together. You can try to claim a share of your partner’s property in some situations, but it can be very hard to prove you should get a share.

Matrimonial Home

Only married couples can have a matrimonial home. Common-law couples cannot have a matrimonial home, so they have different rights.

In a marriage, you and your partner have an equal right to stay in a matrimonial home and right to claim a share in the value of a matrimonial home as part of an equalization payment rule even if a spouse owns the matrimonial home fully. Additionally, under the Family Law Act a spouse can apply to the court for an order for exclusive possession of the matrimonial home. This can even result in the person who owns title to the house being forced to leave.

If you were living common-law, then your right to stay in the home after you separate usually depends on who owns the home or whose name is on the lease or rental agreement.


GST/HST New Housing Rebate and New Residential Rental Property Rebate

If you are buying a new residential complex from a builder, the builder will collect the GST/HST at the time of sale. The CRA provides relief of a portion of the tax collected by the builder in the form of rebates: New Housing Rebate and New Residential Rental Property Rebate.

The rebates are divided into two components – federal and provincial.

If the property is in a GST province like Alberta, etc., you only concern with the federal rebate calculated as 36% of the 5% GST on properties valued $350,000 or less. The federal component of the rebate is phased out for properties valued between $350,000 and $450,000. If exceeding $450,000, there is no federal rebate available.

If the property is in an HST province like Ontario, etc., there is an additional rebate of the provincial component equal to 75% of the tax that is capped depending on the province (in Ontario, the provincial portion of the rebate is capped at $24,000). Unlike the federal component, the provincial component is not subject to the phase out rule.

It’s important to understand the difference between the GST/HST New Housing Rebate and the GST/HST New Residential Rental Property Rebate. This will ensure a complete and correct rebate application.

GST/HST New Housing Rebate

If you bought the new home with the intention for use as your (or your relation’s) primary place of residence, the New Housing Rebate is for you.

You or your relation must live in the new home as the primary place of residence for at least the first twelve months. In order to prove that the new home is your primary place of residence, make sure to change your address with CRA and address on your government issued IDs after moving in.

If you sell the home before the initial twelve months from closing, you must pay the rebate back in full.

If you are buying an investment property, this rebate does not apply to you.

GST/HST New Residential Rental Property Rebate

If you’re a buyer who intend to rent out the residential complex on a long-term basis, you must file for a New Residential Rental Property Rebate.

The property must be rented out for more than one year before resell to another buyer. Otherwise, The rebate must be paid back in full.

Getting It Right

Regardless of which rebate you claim, there is a two year limit in which you can make the claim. However, the CRA is not restricted to that two year limit for assessing errors related to rebate claims.

Therefore, if a new housing rebate is incorrectly claimed in place of a new residential rental property rebate and the error is identified following the close of the rebate claim period, the CRA may be in a position to demand repayment of the rebate plus interest and penalties.

Ensuring the GST/HST on your real estate investment is handled correctly can prevent a lot of heartache later.

Professional Services

BBTS provides professional services with the GST/HST new housing rebate and new residential rental property rebate.

With BBTS, clients can rest assured that application paperwork is submitted correctly and always on time.