Feeling the financial crunch lately? It’s not just about $7 lattes (make that a $12 morning if you like muffins too), the cost of pretty much everything has been going up these days. The one thing that’s probably not going up? Your paycheque. If you’re in a low- to modest-income household, though, there could be some relief. 

The Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) is a refundable federal tax credit that provides a financial boost to help keep up with the cost of living for those who qualify. 

Here’s what you need to know about who’s eligible, how to apply, and (most importantly) how soon you’ll get your money.

Key Takeaways
  1. The Canada Workers Benefit is a tax credit offering up to $1,428 to eligible individuals and $2,461 to eligible families to supplement lower incomes.
  2. To claim the CWB you must pay taxes, earn a working income below the net income level set for your province, and be a Canadian resident age 19 or older on December 31 of the year you’re filing.
  3. Canadians who received the CWB in 2022 will automatically get advance payments from the CRA without having to apply.

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How does the Canada Workers Benefit? 

The CWB is a benefit designed to help individuals and families who have low- to modest incomes. There are two parts to the Canada Workers Benefit: a basic maximum amount and a disability supplement. 

Basic amount: For 2023-24, eligible individuals can receive up to $1,428 to supplement lower incomes, while eligible families may receive up to $2,461 in benefit support

Disability supplement: If you have a recognized disability, you may be eligible for a supplemental amount of up to $737, on top of the maximum credit.

How much you receive depends on which province you live in and whether you are single without an eligible dependant or have a family without an eligible dependant. An eligible dependant is your spouse or common-law partner’s child who resided with you during the tax year, is under age 19, and is not eligible to claim the Canada Workers Benefit for the current tax year.

Who’s eligible for the Canada Workers Benefit?

Here’s who can and can’t qualify for the CWB. To receive the Canada Workers Benefit, you need to be a Canadian resident aged 19 or older for the full calendar year you’re filing. (However, there is no age restriction if you live with your spouse/partner or child.) You also must be paying taxes and earning an income that’s below the net income set for your province or territory of residence

You’re not eligible if you are a full-time student at a designated educational institution (unless you have an eligible dependant) or an officer or servant of another country (a diplomat, for example), or if you’re a family member or employee of that person. You also don’t qualify if you’ve been incarcerated for at least 90 days during the year. 

How is the Canada Workers Benefit calculated?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) takes a case-by-case approach to determine whether you qualify for the Canada Workers Benefit, based on the following: 

  • Marital status
  • Province or territory of residence
  • Earned working income
  • Adjusted family net income
  • Whether you have an eligible dependant
  • Eligibility for the disability tax credit

Check out the child and family benefits calculator on the CRA website. It details the various working income thresholds by family makeup to help you figure out if you’re eligible for the benefit. (The benefit is refundable, so you may be entitled to an amount even if you don’t pay federal income tax.)

Not currently receiving the Canada Workers Benefit but think you qualify? Claim it when you file your next income tax return.

How do I apply for the Canada Workers Benefit? 

It’s easy. If you’re filing online, simply follow the instructions in your TurboTax software. Are you filing a paper return? Fill out Schedule 6 – Canada Workers Benefit and submit it with your form. 

To claim the disability supplement, file Schedule 6 either through your TurboTax software or by submitting a paper return. If both you and your spouse are eligible for the Canada Workers Benefit and one of you is eligible for the disability credit, the spouse who qualifies should claim both the basic amount and the disability supplement. 

Can I get my benefit more quickly?

Good news! As of July 2023 and based on the 2022 taxation year, the CWB is paid via automatic advance payments. Here’s how it works: 50% of your total CWB entitlement benefit is paid out in 3 equal quarterly payments, with the balance being paid after you file your next tax return.

For example, if you were eligible for a CWB of $1,200 in 2022, half of this amount ($600) is paid in 3 quarterly payments of $200 each on July 23, October 2, and January 24. The balance of $600 will be paid in early 2024 after the 2023 tax return is filed.

Anyone who received the CWB in 2022 will receive these advance payments automatically. There is no need to apply. But to get the full amount, you’ll have to file your taxes before November 1.

Once you file your income tax return for the year, the CRA will determine if you were entitled to a larger payment and will include it in your assessment. Conversely, if you received a CWB payment that was larger than what you’re entitled to, it will be assessed and you’ll need to pay the difference back to the CRA. 

Earning less than you did last year? The advance payments are equivalent to the minimum entitlement for the year, so luckily they won’t decrease if your household or individual income is lower than what it was in the previous tax year.

Track CWB benefits with CRA My Account

To make life easier, if you receive CWB payments, you can use the CRA My Account to manage them.

Just log in to your CRA My Account and click on the Benefits and Credits tab at the top of the main welcome page. On the next page, click on a link called Canada Workers Benefit. Here, you will see all of the relevant information about this benefit. This includes when the next payments will be made and your eligibility status.

If you are preparing your taxes and need to know the Canada Workers Benefit amount you received in a previous year, you can also view the RC210 slip that contains this information in your CRA My Account.

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