What are child and family benefits?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

Piggy Bank Family Shows Planning And Protection TNThe Government of Canada has through our taxation system derived benefits for those taxpayers with spouses and children. These benefits are: Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), GST/HST Credit, Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), Children’s Special Allowances (CSAs) [these are payments given to a government agency that protects and cares for children and we won’t cover that here], and various Provincial and Territorial programs.

Information you provide on your income tax and benefit return is used to calculate your child and family benefits payments. Make sure you file your income tax and benefit return on time every year, even if you have not received income in the year. If you have a spouse or common-law partner, they also have to file an income tax and benefit return each year.

Canada child tax benefit (CCTB)

The Canada child tax benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18. The CCTB may include the National Child Benefit Supplement and the Child Disability Benefit.

The national child benefit is a joint initiative of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments that will:

  • Help prevent and reduce the depth of child poverty;
  • Promote attachment to the workforce by ensuring that families will always be better off as a result of working; and
  • Reduce overlap and duplication of government programs and services.

In July 1998, the Government of Canada enhanced the Canada child tax benefit (CCTB) by introducing the national child benefit supplement (NCBS). This supplement is the federal government’s contribution to the national child benefit initiative.

The Child Disability Benefit (CDB) is a tax-free benefit for families who care for a child under age 18 who is eligible for the disability amount. A child is eligible for the disability amount when a qualified practitioner certifies, on Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate, that the child has a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions, and the CRA approves the form.

Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB)

The UCCB is designed to help Canadian families, as they try to balance work and family life, by supporting their child care choices through direct financial support. The UCCB is for children under the age of 6 years and is paid in installments of $100 per month per child.

To receive the UCCB, all the following conditions must be met.

a)     You must live with the child, and the child must be under the age of 6

b)    You must be the person who is primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of the child

This means you are responsible for such things as supervising the child’s daily activities and needs, making sure the child’s medical needs are met, and arranging for child care when necessary. If there is a female parent who lives with the child, CRA usually considers her to be this person. However, it could be the father, a grandparent, or a guardian.

c)     You must be a resident of Canada

d)    You or your spouse or common-law partner must be:

o   Canadian Citizen

o   Permanent resident

o   Protected person

o   Temporary Resident

Generally, you should apply for the UCCB as soon as possible after:

  • Your child is born;
  • A child starts to live with you; or
  • You become a resident of Canada.

GST/HST Credit

The GST/HST credit is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals and families with low or modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay.

You are eligible for this credit if, you are a resident of Canada for income tax purposes in the month prior to and at the beginning of the month in which the GST/HST credit is issued and at least one of the following applies:

  • You are 19 years of age or older before the month in which we make a quarterly payment;
  • You have (or previously had) a spouse or common-law partner; or
  • You are (or previously were) a parent and live (or previously lived) with your child.

If you will turn 19 before April 1, 2015, you can apply for this credit on your 2013 tax return.

To receive the GST/HST credit, you have to apply for it, even if you received it last year. To apply, you have to file an income tax and benefit return for 2013, even if you have not received income in the year. On page 1 of your return, check the “Yes” box in the GST/HST credit application area and enter your marital status in the Identification area.

Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB)

The working income tax benefit (WITB) is a refundable tax credit intended to provide tax relief for eligible working low-income individuals and families who are already in the workforce and to encourage other Canadians to enter the workforce. This also includes income earned from being self-employed.

You can claim the WITB on line 453 of your 2014 income tax and benefit return. However, eligible individuals and families may be able to apply for the 2015 advance payments. You can apply for the advanced payments when you file your income tax return.

To qualify, your working income must be over $3,000 for the year, you must be a resident of Canada throughout the year, and over 19 years of age as of December 31st for the year you apply. If you are under 19 years of age, you may still be eligible for the WITB, if you have a spouse or common-law partner or an eligible dependent on December 31st.

You are not eligible for the WITB if:

  • You do not have an eligible dependent and are enrolled as a full-time student at a designated educational institution for more than 13 weeks in the year;
  • You are confined to a prison or similar institution for a period of 90 days or more in the year; or
  • You do not have to pay tax in Canada because you are an officer or servant of another country, such as a diplomat, or a family member or employee of such person.

If you are eligible for the WITB and the disability amount, you may also be eligible to claim an annual disability supplement. To be eligible for the disability supplement, your working income must be over $1,150 and we must have an approved Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate on file with CRA.

As you can see the federal government have various credits that can help low-income families with relieve from various financial pressures they incur day-to-day. Always ask your tax preparer whether or not you qualify for these credits, and why you don’t. The CRA will inform you once you’ve filed your taxes whether or not you qualify, too. Below we are talking about the various (and there are many of them) programs to help low-income families.

Provincial and Territorial programs

Alberta family employment 
tax credit (AFETC)

The AFETC is a non-taxable amount paid to families with working income that have children under 18 years of age.

BC family bonus (BCFB)

This program provides non-taxable amounts paid monthly to help low- and modest-income families with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. The amount is combined with the CCTB into a single monthly payment.

BC low-income climate action tax credit (BCLICATC)

This credit is a non-taxable amount paid to help low‑income individuals and families with the carbon taxes they pay.

New Brunswick child tax benefit (NBCTB)

The NBCTB is a non-taxable amount paid monthly to qualifying families with children under 18 years of age. The New Brunswick working income supplement (NBWIS) is an additional benefit paid to qualifying families with earned income who have children under 18 years of age. Benefits are combined with the CCTB into a single monthly payment.

Newfoundland and Labrador child benefit (and mother baby nutrition supplement)

This benefit is a non-taxable amount paid monthly to help low-income families with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. The mother baby nutrition supplement (MBNS) is an additional benefit paid to qualifying families who have children under one year of age. Benefits are combined with the CCTB into a single monthly payment.

Newfoundland and Labrador harmonized sales tax credit (NLHSTC)

This credit is a non‑taxable amount paid to help low-income individuals and families who may be affected by the HST. Under this program, individuals or families with adjusted family net incomes of $15,000 or less receive an annual amount of $40 per adult and $60 for each child under 19.

Newfoundland and Labrador seniors’ benefit (NLSB)

This program provides a non‑taxable annual amount of $1,036 for a single senior (65 years of age or older at any time during 2014) or a married or common-law couple with at least one senior whose adjusted family net income is $28,654 or less. Seniors will get part of this payment if their adjusted family net income is between $28,654 and $37,522.

Northwest Territories child benefit (NWTCB)

This benefit is a non-taxable amount paid monthly to qualifying families with children under 18 years of age.

Nova Scotia child benefit (NSCB)

This benefit is a non-taxable amount paid monthly to help low- and modest-income families with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. These amounts are combined with the CCTB into a single monthly payment.

Nova Scotia affordable living tax credit (NSALTC)

This credit is a non‑taxable amount paid to make life more affordable for Nova Scotian households with low and modest incomes. The credit offsets the increase in the HST and provides additional income for these households.

Nunavut child benefit (NUCB)

This benefit is a non-taxable amount paid monthly to qualifying families with children under 18 years of age.

Ontario trillium benefit (OTB)

The Ontario trillium benefit (OTB) is the combined payment of the Ontario energy and property tax credit, the Northern Ontario energy credit, and the Ontario sales tax credit.

Ontario energy and property tax credit (OEPTC)

The Ontario energy and property tax credit (OEPTC) is designed to help low- to moderate-income Ontario residents with the sales tax on energy and with property taxes.

Northern Ontario energy credit (NOEC) 

The Northern Ontario energy credit (NOEC) is designed to help low- to moderate-income Northern Ontario residents with the higher energy costs they face living in the north.

Prince Edward Island sales tax credit

This credit is a non‑taxable amount paid to help offset the increase in the sales tax for households with low and modest incomes.

Saskatchewan lowincome tax credit (SLITC)

This credit is a non‑taxable amount paid to help Saskatchewan residents with low and modest incomes.

Yukon child benefit (YCB)

This benefit is a non-taxable amount paid monthly to help low‑ and modest‑income families with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. These amounts are combined with the CCTB into a single monthly payment

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