Petition to fix CERB self-employment eligibility error
Back in December, the Canada Revenue Agency sent out more than 441,000 letters advising people who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) that they may have to pay back up to $14,000. Many of the people who received that letter are low-income self-employed Canadians
The government introduced the CERB in a hurry. That was necessary under the circumstances, but it created a situation where eligibility requirements were sometimes unclear. This was particularly true for individuals who are self-employed.
People who are self-employed or own small businesses will often incur additional expenses in one year vs another for capital improvements, to expand a product line or to start a new business. Home-based businesses can also write off a portion of house expenses such as rent and utilities against income but these businesses were not eligible for the government emergency rent subsidy.
The government has acknowledged that both CERB eligibility guidelines and government advice failed to specify clearly that gross income for people who are self-employed meant gross income after deductions. Many low-income self employed Canadians who applied for the CERB in good faith are facing large debts to the CRA as a result.
This is unacceptable. The government made an error and it needs to own that error. That is why I have sponsored this petition brought forward on behalf of self-employed Canadians who are impacted. They are calling on the government to retroactively allow self-employed Canadians to use their gross pre-tax income before business expenses when determining their CERB eligibility.
It's the fair thing to do.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was created to provide financial support to employed and self-employed Canadians who were directly affected by COVID-19;
After the CERB’s end date of September 26, 2020, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sent out letters to 441,000 Canadians who had received the CERB, warning that they may need to repay up to $14,000 due to ineligibility;
When the CERB was open for applications, the government did not appropriately specify whether Canadians should determine their eligibility using their gross or net self-employment income;
Some CRA agents provided incorrect information about whether eligibility was based on gross or net self-employment income; and
Canadians who applied for the CERB in good faith should not be penalized for eligibility errors or misguidance that occurred on the part of the government.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to retroactively allow self-employed Canadians to use their gross pre-tax income before business expenses when determining their CERB eligibility.