The CRA says I must pay back the COVID-19 benefit. What can I do?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has sent letters to many people saying that they:

The process is different if you got a Notice of Debt from Service Canada about repaying the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Read more in What can I do if I am not happy with a decision about my EI claim?

If you do not pay your debt, the CRA can take money from your tax refund or tax benefits. They can also take money off your wages or from your bank account. So it's best to deal with any CRA debts right away.

Get a second review

If you think the CRA made a mistake and you did qualify, you can ask them to change their decision. This is called getting a second review.

Read more in Steps 1 and 2.

Judicial review

If the CRA does not change their decision, you can apply for judicial review. This means that you ask a judge at the Federal Court to decide if the CRA made a reasonable decision.

If the judge decides the CRA was not reasonable, they'll make the CRA look at your case again. It's very rare for the judge to change the CRA's decision.

Read more in Step 3.

Financial hardship

You might not be able to get CRA to change their decision. The CRA will not get rid of debts that are legal, even if they seem unfair.

If paying the debt would cause you financial hardship, there may be other solutions like making a payment arrangement. Read more in Step 4.

If you cannot find a solution with the CRA that works for you, you might need to think about:

Read more in Step 5.

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