For the 2020 tax year, the Government of Canada introduced a temporary flat rate method to allow Canadians working from home this year due to Covid-19 to claim expenses of up to $400. Taxpayers will still be able to claim under the existing rules if they choose using the detailed method.
Each employee working from home who meets the eligibility criteria can use the temporary flat rate method to calculate their deduction for home office expenses.
To use this method to claim the home office expenses you paid, you must meet all of the following conditions:
You worked from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
You worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020
You are only claiming home office expenses and are not claiming any other employment expenses
Your employer did not reimburse you for all of your home office expensesWhat if your employer has reimbursed you for some of your home office expenses
You need to meet all of the above conditions to be eligible to use the Temporary flat rate method.
New eligible expenses
For the detailed method, the CRA has expanded the list of eligible expenses that can be claimed as work-space-in-the-home expenses to include reasonable home internet access fees. A comprehensive list of eligible home office expenses has also been created.
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) is now open for applications.
As described on the Canada.ca website, the CRB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
This program replaces the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and, if eligible, provides $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.
If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
To be eligible for the CRB, you must meet all the following conditions for the 2-week period you are applying for:
During the period you’re applying for:
you were not working for reasons related to COVID-19 OR
you had a 50% reduction in your average weekly income compared to the previous year due to COVID-19
You did not apply for or receive any of the following:
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
short-term disability benefits
workers’ compensation benefits
Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits
You were not eligible for EI benefits
You reside in Canada
You were present in Canada
You are at least 15 years old
You have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)
You earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months before the date you apply from any of the following sources:
employment income (total or gross pay)
net self-employment income (after deducting expenses)
maternity and parental benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits
You have not quit your job or reduced your hours voluntarily on or after September 27, 2020, unless it was reasonable to do so
You were seeking work during the period, either as an employee or in self-employment
You have not turned down reasonable work during the 2-week period you’re applying for
You need all of the above to be eligible for the CRB.
On October 9th, the Federal Government announced the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and additional loans through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).
New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for businesses
The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) is the replacement for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA).
When launched, the new program will allow businesses to apply directly for rent relief through CRA. The original CECRA faced criticism because it required landlords to apply for the assistance and absorb a 25% reduction in rent which may explain the low uptake.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that the new rent subsidy will be available for businesses that continue to experience revenue decline due to COVID-19. From Canada.ca:
The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The rent subsidy would be provided directly to tenants, while also providing support to property owners. The new rent subsidy would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.
A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy. This follows a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to provide direct financial support to businesses temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.
Allowing businesses to apply for the rent subsidy directly will make obtaining support for those in need as straightforward and simple as possible.
The new CERS is set to be available until June 2021.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy extended to June 2021
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will continue to provide wage relief for employers until June 2021. As well, the subsidy will remain at the current rate of up to a maximum of 65% of eligible wages until December 19th and will not decrease on a sliding scale as previously planned.
Canada Emergency Business Account – additional $20,000 interest-free loan
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be expanded to provide an additional $20,000 loan with $10,000 forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. Businesses applying for the loan will be required to prove they have faced income loss caused by COVID-19.
On August 20th, the Federal Government announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by one month and the subsequent transition, on September 27th, to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) Program for those who remain unable to work and are eligible.
Temporary revised EI benefit qualifications:
120 hours of work required to qualify
Minimum benefit rate of $400 per week
At least 26 weeks of regular benefits
Canada Recovery Benefit
Effective September 27th, 2020 for 1 year, the Canada Recovery Benefit will provide $400 / week for up to 26 weeks for those who are not eligible for EI, like self-employed and gig economy workers.
“The benefit would be available to residents in Canada who:
are at least 15 years old and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
have stopped working due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are available and looking for work; or are working and have had a reduction in their employment/self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19;
are not eligible for Employment Insurance;
had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020; and,
have not quit their job voluntarily.
Workers would apply after every two-week period for which they are seeking income support and attest that they continue to meet the requirements. In order to continue to be eligible for the benefit the claimant wound need to look for and accept work when it is reasonable to do so. The benefit is taxable.”
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
Effective September 27th, 2020 for 1 year, the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit will provide $500 / week for up to 2 weeks for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must isolate due to COVID-19.
Residents in Canada who are at least 15 years of age and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
Workers employed or self-employed at the time of the application; and
Workers who earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020.
Workers would not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit. Workers could not claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period. Workers would need to have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit.
Workers would apply after the one-week period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. The benefit would taxable.”
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
Effective September 27th, 2020 for 1 year, the new Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit will provide $500 / week for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible Canadians.
The news release from canada.ca, states that:
“The closure of schools and other daycare and day program facilities to prevent the spread of COVID 19 has meant that many Canadians have been unable to work because they needed to provide care to children or support to other dependents who had to stay home. While it is anticipated that facilities will gradually re-open as the economy restarts, the Government of Canada recognizes that access may vary over time and across communities. The Government is committed to ensuring that parents and others with dependents do not need to choose between caring for them and paying the bills.”
In order to be eligible for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, individuals would need to:
reside in Canada;
be at least 15 years of age on the first day of the period for which they apply for the benefit;
have a valid Social Insurance Number;
be employed or self-employed on the day immediately preceding the period for which the application is made;
have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020;
have been unable to work for at least 60% of their normally scheduled work within a given week because of one of the following conditions:
they must take care of a child who is under 12 years of age on the first day of the period for which the benefit is claimed:
because their school or daycare is closed or operates under an alternative schedule for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
who cannot attend school or daycare under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19; or
because the caregiver who usually provides care is not available for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic; or
they must provide care to a family member with a disability or a dependent:
because their day program or care facility is closed or operates under an alternative schedule for reasons related to COVID-19;
who cannot attend their day program or care facility under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19; or
because the caregiver who usually provides care is not available for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
not be in receipt of paid leave from an employer in respect of the same week; and
not be in receipt of the CERB, the EI Emergency Response Benefit (ERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, short-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, or any EI benefits or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits in respect of the same week.
Workers would apply after the period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. Two members residing in the same household could not be in receipt of the benefit for the same period. The benefit is taxable.
The intention for our “Guide to Covid-19: Government Relief Programs in Canada” is to help businesses and individuals to cut through the noise and make sure they’re getting all the help they can receive from the federal and provincial programs.