Broadened CERB Criteria Makes More REALTORS® Eligible
On April 15th, the Government of Canada broadened the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) criteria by allowing applicants to earn up to $1,000 in each four-week eligibility period. People who are eligible for Employment Insurance or sickness benefits or who have exhausted their Employment Insurance benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 are also now eligible. This change clarifies that REALTORS® are eligible if they have continued to work but have not received income or if their income is at or below the $1,000 threshold.
More on who's eligible
CERB was launched to support residents of Canada over the age of 15 who have stopped working due to COVID-19 reasons, including:
- Unable to work because of being quarantined or sick due to COVID-19
- Caring for someone with COVID-19
- Caring for children due to school or daycare closures
- Lay-offs or leaves without pay
To be eligible, you also must have had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or the 12 months prior to your date of application. You cannot have quit voluntarily. For complete eligibility information and more on CERB, go here.
More on applying
The first step in applying for CERB is setting up an online account with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), called CRA My Account (if you don't already have one). Go here to learn more about that process.
There are seven CERB eligibility periods and you can apply for up to four periods, which don't have to be consecutive. When submitting your first claim, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of your claim.
If you receive income above the $1,000 threshold after you have received a CERB payment, and then stop receiving income or fall below that threshold, you will need to re-apply. When you re-apply, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire four-week benefit period of your new claim. You can view the eligibility periods on the CRA's webpage.
Because you can only apply for four periods in total, if you're not facing immediate financial hardship it may be in your best interests to wait to apply. Applications will be accepted up to December 2, 2020, meaning payouts will be available retroactively for the eligibility periods. You will be expected to report CERB as income when you file your income tax for the 2020 tax year.
CERB is designed to be easy and quick to administer so when you apply, you will be asked questions to confirm your eligibility but no proof or supporting documentation will be required. However, the government has said that in the fall they will begin reviewing applicants retroactively and anyone found to have applied when they weren't eligible will be required to return the funds. This may trigger a CRA audit.
Do not apply if you have already applied for Employment Insurance.
Surrendering your licence and eligibility
One of the key eligibility criteria for CERB is that you have not quit your job voluntarily. Currently, it isn't clear if surrendering your real estate trading services licence would be considered quitting voluntarily. With that in mind, BCREA advises all Realtors hoping to apply for CERB to maintain their licence.
If you're denied CERB
If you apply for CERB, and discover you're not eligible, please email Trevor Hargreaves, VP of Government Relations and Stakeholder Engagement at the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA). BCREA is collaborating with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) to make government aware of barriers Realtors are facing.
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