History of the BC COVID Recovery Benefit
When BC held a provincial election in October 2020, one of the campaign promises made by Premier John Horgan, was to provide individuals and families with a one-time, tax-free benefit before Christmas to assist BC residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The BC Recovery Benefit began taking online applications on December 18th, 2020 and many of those applicants received their benefit the following week.
It’s important to keep in my mind that this is a provincial benefit only available to BC residents, and does not have anything to do with the federal government or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You may need to access your online CRA My Account to retrieve your Notice Of Assessment (NOA), however, the application process for this benefit is completed entirely through the Official Website of the Government of British Columbia.
How the benefit works
The benefit is a one-time direct deposit payment for eligible families, single parents or individuals. You must apply to receive the benefit and your eligibility is based on your Net Income – Line 23600 of your assessed 2019 tax return.
The amount you’re eligible for will be automatically calculated based on your net income when you apply. Only if your individual or family net income exceeds the income thresholds below, will you see a reduction in the benefit amount you receive. There is also a maximum net income (or cap) amount for both individuals and families. If your net income exceeds this amount, the benefit is eliminated entirely.
Families and single parents
- Eligible families and single parents with a net income of up to $125,000, will receive $1,000.
- Eligible families and single parents with a net income over $125,000 will see a reduction of the benefit, and total elimination when the family net income reaches $175,000.
- Eligible individuals with a net income of up to $62,500 will receive $500.
- Eligible individuals with a net income over $62,500 will see a reduction of the benefit, and total elimination when their net income reaches $87,500.
Using 2019 income tax data
In order to prevent fraudulent claims, applicants must provide 2019 income tax data to receive the benefit. Many people have expressed concern that providing tax data from 2019 is inaccurate and should be based on the 2020 tax year when the pandemic started affecting them. The BC Government states “British Columbians need support now, and if the benefit relied on 2020 income tax data, payment wouldn’t be possible until approximately fall 2021”.
Who is eligible for the benefit?
The benefit is available to people:
- Who were residents of B.C. on December 18, 2020
- Who were at least 19 years old on December 18, 2020.
- If you were under age 19 and a single parent who is the principal caregiver to at least one child, or living with a spouse or common-law partner, you can still apply for the family benefit under the specific eligibility criteria.
- You need to have filed your 2019 personal income tax return.
- If you did not file a 2019 tax return, you should do so before applying for the benefit*. Exceptions may be made for new residents of Canada, and more information can be found in this link.
- You’ll need a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN), Individual Tax Number (ITN), or a Temporary Tax Number (TTN).
If you’re applying for the family benefit, your spouse or common-law partner must also meet the general eligibility criteria.
Submitting your application
You can apply online, over the phone or at a Service BC computer terminal. Applications are open until June 30, 2021. In specific circumstances, you may be contacted to submit additional information to verify your eligibility. If you’re applying as a family, submit only one application.
- Online applications using your desktop, tablet or smartphone can be made via this link to Government of BC Recovery Benefit. Applying online is the fastest way to get your payment and after applying online you will be emailed a confirmation number.
- Phone applications can be made by calling 1-833-882-0020. An agent will complete the application with you and give you a Case ID number when you’re done. Service is available Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, excluding statutory holidays.
- In-person applications can be made at a Service Canada office. If you don’t have a computer or access to the internet, you can visit a Service BC location near you to use a computer terminal.
No matter how you choose to apply, you will need the following information accessible to successfully submit your application. The complete list and more information can be found in this link.
- Net income from Line 23600 of your 2019 tax return or Notice of Assessment (NOA): If you are applying with a spouse or common-law partner, you will need the information for both.
- Social Insurance Number (SIN): Have your Social Insurance Number (SIN), Individual Tax Number (ITN), (or Temporary Tax Number) available.
- BC Driver’s Licence Number (BCDL): If you have a B.C. driver’s licence, you must provide your driver’s licence number as this information is used to help detect and stop fraudulent claims.
- Mailing Address: You’ll be required to verify your mailing address with Canada Post during the application. This makes sure any information sent via mail is delivered to the correct address.
- Direct Deposit Information: You must have an account with a Canadian financial institution to receive the benefit as it is only issued by direct deposit.
- If you’re on income or disability assistance and don’t have a bank account, a modified application will be available early in the new year to help you apply for and receive the benefit.
After your application is approved, payment will generally be deposited to your bank account within 5 business days. You will be notified by email when your payment is processed and also receive a letter in the mail.
The Government of British Columbia has more information on the pandemic and their response to the COVID-19 state of emergency. Please see the following links for up to date information as well as the application for the BC Recovery Benefit.
- BC COVID-19 Recovery Benefit
- BC’s Response to COVID-19
- Province-wide Restrictions
- COVID-19 Provincial and Federal Benefits
*If you have not filed your 2019 tax return, TurboTax offers solutions so you can get up to date and complete your Recovery Benefit application, including a FREE edition. See this link for the complete list of prior year software.