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.
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.