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New Canada Child Benefit will help low-income families

Most families with children under 18 will get payments from the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) starting in July 2016. The CCB is an important payment for low- and middle-income families as getting it can increase their income significantly.

This month's On the Radar explains some basics about the CCB, how it's different from the old child benefit payments, and how to get it.
 

The new Canada Child Benefit

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is money that the government pays each month to families to help with the costs of raising children under 18 years of age.

People do not have to pay income tax on the CCB.

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) do not count the CCB as income when deciding if people qualify financially for assistance, or how much they get.

And getting the CCB won't affect whether people are eligible for or how much they get from:
  • Ontario child care subsidies
  • Healthy Smiles Ontario, the province's dental program for low-income youth
  • rent-geared-to-income subsidies
  • portable housing benefits

How the CCB is different

The CCB replaces the old Canada child tax benefit (CCTB), the national child benefit supplement (NCBS), and the universal child care benefit (UCCB).

The CCB is similar to the old benefit system in many ways. But, under the new system, low- and middle-income families will get more, while higher income families will get less.

Also, the CCB does not change the child disability benefit (CDB) or the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB). Families that qualify will continue to get the CDB and the OCB as separate amounts that are paid with the CCB.

People don't have to apply separately for the CBD or OCB.
 

CCB amounts

The maximum CCB amount is:
  • $6,400 per year for a child under the age of 6
  • $5,400 per year for a child between the ages of 6 and 17
The amount of someone's CCB depends on several things, including the number of children and their adjusted family net income.

Families with an adjusted family net income of under $30,000 qualify for the maximum CCB amounts. As income increases, the benefit is reduced until it reaches zero.

The government has an online Child and family benefits calculator that estimates CCB, CDB, and OCB payments.
 

When the CCB is paid

The CCB is usually paid on the 20th of each month, starting July 20, 2016.

Each year, the CCB is paid monthly from July to the following June, based on income from the previous tax year.

For example, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) looks at a family's income between January and December 2015 to decide if they can get the CCB from July 2016 to June 2017.
 

Applying for the CCB

If someone has not got child benefit payments before, they need to apply for the CCB. For example, someone might need to apply if they recently:
  • had a baby
  • become the primary caregiver for a child
  • moved to Canada

Getting the CCB each year

If someone got the old CCTB in June 2016, they don't need to re-apply for the CCB. But they do need to file their 2015 income tax return.

If they're married or have a common-law partner, that person also needs to file their 2015 income tax return.

This applies even if someone has no income or isn't required to file a tax return. For example, a First Nations person living in Ontario might not have to file a tax return, but they will still need to file their tax return if they want to get the CCB.

The CRA is sending out notices in July 2016 to tell people if they will get the CCB and how much they will get.
 

If someone disagrees with the CRA

People can make a complaint to the CRA's Appeal Branch, if they disagree with a decision about:
  • whether they should get the CCB
  • how much they should get
They must file a complaint within 90 days of the date that the CRA mails them a decision.

People can ask for more time to appeal. But the CRA won't extend the time for longer than one year.

If they disagree with the Appeal Branch's decision, they can appeal in court.
 

How to get legal help

People may need to get legal help if they disagree with a decision that the CRA makes about the CCB.

They might be able to get help from their local community legal clinic. To find the nearest legal clinic, visit the Legal Aid Ontario website.

The Law Society Referral Service is an online service that gives people the name of a lawyer or paralegal in their community.

JusticeNet is a non-profit service that helps people find legal help, if their net family income is under $59,000.
 
This email alert gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation.
July 2016
 
On the Radar is a monthly email alert from CLEO that highlights timely legal information.
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