2022 was the year of inflation, and the rising cost of living hit Canadian households hard. For low-income earners, it has become particularly difficult to meet their basic needs, including housing. To help them, the government has introduced a one-time assistance measure: the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit.

In this article, you will find everything you need to know about this one-time allowance that could ease your financial burden in the new year.

What is the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit?

The one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit is a measure to help low-income households pay their rent. It consists of a one-time, tax-free payment of $500, administered if the applicant meets the income and rent amount criteria. It is not necessary to have received other housing-related benefits to receive this assistance. This assistance does not impact other federal income-based benefits, but the impact on provincial or territorial benefits varies by jurisdiction.

In addition, this aid is only available until March 31, 2023. There is currently no indication from the government that it will be renewed in the future.

Who can receive the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit?

There are several eligibility requirements to receive the one-time supplement. First, you must be born on or before December 1, 2007 and have your principal residence in Canada on December 1, 2022. You must also have been a resident of Canada for tax purposes in 2022, and have filed your income tax return for the year 2021. If you have a spouse or common-law partner, they must also have filed their tax return for 2021.

As such, your net income for the year 2021 must be:

  • $35,000 or less for a family;
  • $20,000 or less for an individual.

To be considered a family, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be married or in a common-law relationship and not separated for at least 90 days as of December 1, 2022;
  • Have received the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for a child under the age of 18 as of December 1, 2022;
  • Have claimed a deduction on line 30400 of your 2021 tax return for a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister under 18 years of age (or over 18 years of age in the case of a physical or mental disability).

There are also conditions regarding the amount paid for your rent. Eligible rent must have been paid during the 2022 calendar year for one of your eligible principal residences. This amount must be equal to at least 30% of your 2021 family net income. When you apply, you will be able to verify that the amount of rent paid is at this percentage or higher. Please note that you cannot apply on behalf of another person.

Example of eligible amount of rent paid:
Net income in 2021 x 30% = Minimum amount of rent paid for 2022
$15,000 x 30% = $4,500
With a $15,000 net income, you must have paid at least $4,500 in rent in 2022 to receive this aid

Eligible rent is the rent you paid under a lease or similar arrangement. It does not include meals, board or other services, or utilities and taxes that are not included in the lease agreement. If you share the rent with other individuals or families (roommates), each must apply for and report their portion of the rent paid, regardless of whether only one person is making payments to the landlord.

For more details on eligibility for the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit, you can visit the page dedicated to this benefit on the Government of Canada website.

How do I apply?

Before you apply for the one-time top-up Canada Housing Benefit, you must have already filed your tax return for the year 2021. The application must be submitted through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account portal. If you are not registered for the portal, you can apply via My Service Canada Account. If for any reason you are unable to register, you can apply using the online application form or by phone at 1-800-282-8079.

When you log in to CRA My Account, you will see a box to apply. You will need to provide the address of your primary residence in 2022 (or addresses, if you resided in multiple locations during the year), the total amount of rent you paid during the 2022 calendar year, and the names and contact information of the people to whom you paid rent. Once the application is completed, you can choose to receive your payment by direct deposit or by mailed cheque.

How long does it take to receive payment?

If you applied through My CRA Account and have set up direct deposit, you will receive your payment within five business days of your application. If you have opted to receive a cheque instead, it will be mailed within 10 business days.

If you are applying via the online form, the current processing time is 6 to 11 business days. If you apply by phone, the current processing time is 7 to 12 business days.

What if my application requires further review or is denied?

It is possible that after receiving your payment, the Canada Revenue Agency decides to conduct a more in-depth review of your one-time supplement application. You will then be contacted by mail. You will need to provide the requested documents and information within 30 days of the date on the letter or you may be required to refund the payment.

You will need to provide either a letter from your landlord or receipts for each month you paid rent. Each document must include the following information

  • the amount of rent you paid;
  • the address of the rented residence;
  • the dates the rent was paid;
  • the name of the person who made the payments;
  • the name of the person or company who received the payments;
  • the name and signature of the owner of the unit.

If you are unable to provide these documents, you may be required to provide a lease as well as bank statements, credit card statements, eTransfer receipts or other evidence to confirm the amount you listed as rent paid in 2022. You must write your social insurance number and the reference number from your CRA letter at the top of each document. You can submit your documents online, by fax or by mail. You will receive a response by mail.

If your application is denied, you may request a second review within 90 days of the date you received the decision. You will need to provide the reasons why you are disputing the decision, any new relevant documents, facts or messages, and your current phone number and address. This second assessment will be conducted by a different CRA officer. This request can also be made online, by fax or by mail.

Frequently Asked Questions about the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit

Who is eligible for the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit?

The one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit is for households with a net income of $35,000 or less in 2021 and for individuals with a net income of $20,000 or less in 2021. The total amount of rent paid in 2022 must be equal to or greater than 30% of the 2021 net income.

How much is the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit?

The one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit is a one-time, tax-free payment of $500. It does not affect other federal housing-related benefits, but may affect provincial or territorial benefits depending on the jurisdiction.

How do I apply for the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit?

You can apply directly through the CRA My Account portal. You can also apply using the online form or by phone at 1-800-282-8079.

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