Canada: Taxing The CEBA And The CEWS –The CRA Isn’t So Forgiving

We are over and done with 2020. With the ashes of the year 2020, we are here to expect that the impacts of 2020 and everything it had to bring will be felt for a long period.  The year left so many consequences to experience. One of the consequences that may be felt earlier rather than later is the tax influence of the different types of COVID-19 government assistance provided to individuals and companies.

This article discusses an in-depth overview of the CEBA and the qualifying conditions, the tax consequences for the beneficiaries of the CEWS, including a review of the Canada Revenue Agency’s (“CRA”) remarks on the timing of publishing the CEWS.

Tax Implications of the CEBA and the CEWS

There are the tax implications of two types of support: the Canada Emergency Business Account (the “CEBA”) scheme and the Canada Emergency Income Subsidy (the “CEWS”)

The CEBA scheme offers interest-free lending to certain qualifying companies and individuals with a part of the debt theoretically being forgivable in the future provided certain conditions are fulfilled. Although a part of the CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT loan is technically “forgivable”, which sadly doesn’t allow it tax-free. Below we give an outline of the CEBA scheme and then map out the tax consequences for companies or not-for-profits involved in the program.

A Comprehensive Overview of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

The new CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT was designed for small businessmen that have gone astray due to the global epidemic. The CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT was created to adopt by the federal government in April of 2020 to support startups and not-for-profits counter the disruptions of COVID-19. The CEBA scheme offers interest-free lending to qualifying companies with such a part of the debt theoretically deemed forgivable.

The debt balance was initially $40,000 with up to $10,000 being forgivable. Both rates were changed on December 4, 2020, so that for new borrowers the loan balance is currently $60,000 with up to $20,000 remaining forgivable. Respondents who obtained the original $40,000 loan may qualify for a $20,000 extension.

To still be considered for the CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT scheme, a corporation or not-for-profit have to:

  • Must own an effective business chequing/operating account;
  • Must own an authorized Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) business number with a date of registration on or before March 1, 2020;
  • Must be intended to begin, or restart, operating the business; and
  • Must be compensated 2019 job profits with no more than than $1,500,000.

Furthermore, users are only allowed to use the program once.

Candidates are divided into two groups: those with a 2019 earned income of $20,000 to $1,500,000, and those with a 2019 employment income of less than $20,000.

Applicants in group #2 must either have “qualified non-deferrable costs” (i.e. leasing, property taxes, electricity, etc.) around $40,000 and $150,000, as well as have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return with the Canada Revenue Agency.

The applicable sum of the debt will be forgiven if the Applicant pays back the remainder of the credit on or before December 31, 2022.

Implications for the 2020 Tax Return

With no wonder, there are tax implications for all borrowers who are effective and collect the CEBA loan. The CRA previously posted a technical interpretation that clarifies these implications in greater detail. The Forgivable Portion of the CEBA credit should be counted in taxes the year the Applicant gets the credit under section 12 of the Income Tax Act3 (“ITA”). The CRA deems the Forgivable Portion of the loan to follow the meaning in segment 12(1)(x)(iv), which states that it is a sum earned by a borrower during the year, in the process of receiving revenue from a company or from the state, that can fairly be deemed to have been provided as a forgivable portion of the debt.

If the Taxpayer prefers not to report the whole sum as “money,” it should use any or a subset of the proceeds to mitigate expenditures withheld on the tax return within chapter 12(2.2) of the ITA. When CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT funds are often used to compensate for non-deferrable costs (such as payroll or many other qualifying non-deferrable expenditures), the Participant may choose to limit the cost of that payment recorded for taxation purposes. Any part of the Forgivable Portion that is not being used in this way should be declared as wages.

Section 12(2.2) voting helps you to minimize the gross tax liability that might otherwise be owed if the whole forgivable part of your earnings was used. If a corporation has costs that are not tax-exempt, the forgivable part of the debt could potentially be used to reduce those expenditures. The corporation has not lowered the gross expenditures excluded from the income tax and the expenditures cannot be withheld for accounting purposes in any case. The corporation stops counting the part of the forgiven debt in revenue by doing so.

Implications for the Year of Repayment

The tax consequences depend on the fact that the repaid part of the debt is forgiven the same year the Borrower pays back the credit. If it is forgiven, there will be no more tax repercussions. The Participant would already have completed the requisite tax on the Forgivable Part at that time, and no further intervention is needed.

When, that being said, the Forgivable Portion is not expended until the debt is refunded, a profit that the Borrower has not received is paid by the taxpayer. In that situation, the Applicant may request a sum initially inclusive of income or used for reducing expenditures under Section 12 under section 20(1)(hh) of the ITA (2.2). This would minimize the participant’s tax due in the year of refund.

It is your responsibility to acknowledge that you can have a benefit in the year of reimbursement. Be certain you have such an alert; you don’t want to pay higher money than you have to pay.

Reporting the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

For reasons of taxes the CEWS obtained by a worker is registered in one of two respects: under either section 9(1) of the ITA or in compliance with section (1)(x) if they are not mentioned there (the same provision as the CEBA).

The gains or losses by a corporation are stated in section 9 of the ITA. The fundamental concept would be that “the profits of a taxpayer from a company during a tax year is the taxpayers’ money profit.” If a cost or benefits payment is an accepted aspect of the company’s “gain” is a legal matter, and this is detailed in Canderel Ltd v Canada’s Supreme Court decision.

The ultimate purpose under section 9 of Canderel is to calculate the company’s revenue “as well as provide a clear overview of its revenue condition and, of necessity, according to the statutes which involve preferential privileges of some of these types of costs or receipt.” Canderel submitted.

The overall philosophy of CRA is that it would certainly be reasonable and following the concepts laid out in Canderel to include CEWS in the company benefit calculation within Article of the ITA. If in cases where the Canderel rules contribute to a contrary inference, namely that a precise representation of the company’s earnings would not be possible by adding CEWS according to section 9, CRAs take the view that the CEWS would then be used as part of Article 12(1). (x).

Thus, in any specific trial, there is no strict and quick law to which part of the ITA refers. In the meanwhile, for every employee a qualitative review is essential. However, depending on the analysis of the CRA in most instances, it seems that the CEWS sums are stated according to section 9 with their chosen approach.

When to Include in Income

The CRA previously proposed that every specific sum of CEWS accrued in the company’s profits, even though not necessarily requested, or obtained till much afterward, in the employer’s taxable year on which the corresponding CEWS demand period falls. In theory, before applying for CEWS for a claim term coming under the taxation year, a corporation should already file its tax return for one taxable year. The status of the CRA indicates that the contractor will be expected for that fiscal year to file an updated tax return.

The CRA has expressly indicated that the operational help would not be provided to enable the reporters of the CEWS to write afterward. And as such, even when a revised tax return is required, a company must register CEWS correctly in the time frame after which the figure currently applies.


Recent Posts