Raising kids can be expensive, but qualifying families can receive tax-free monthly payments from the government to help manage some of the costs.
Known as the Canada Child Benefit, the amount your family receives depends on factors like household income, family size, and your province or territory of residence. Fortunately, the process of applying for this assistance is quick and straightforward.
How the Canada Child Benefit works
In 2016, the Canada Child Benefit, or CCB, replaced the Canada Child Tax Benefit, or CCTB. The government made this change to make more money available to parents with lower incomes.
The CCB is a monthly payment made directly to families with children under 18 years old. As payments are handled by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), you’ll need to file your income taxes to be eligible. But you don’t need to include any CCB funds you receive in your taxable income for the year.
If you’re eligible, the CCB payments you receive may include additional benefits for your children, including a child disability benefit and provincial and territorial benefits.
Canada child benefit payment amounts
Monthly CCB payments are based on:
- The number of children in your care.
- The age of the children.
- Your marital status.
- Your adjusted family net income (AFNI) from the previous year’s tax return.
If your AFNI is less than $32,797, you can receive up to the following amounts per child:
- Under six years of age: $6,997 per year ($583.08 per month)
- Six to 17 years of age: $5,903 per year ($491.91 per month)
Since the CCB is meant to deliver assistance to lower-income families, payments start to decrease if your AFNI exceeds $32,797. Additionally, if you’re over this income threshold, the CCB is reduced for each additional child you have.
Admittedly, CCB calculations and adjustments can be a bit complicated. However, the Government of Canada has an online CCB calculator that can help you estimate how much CCB you’ll receive each month.
Payments are recalculated every July based on the previous year’s tax return. The government also adjusts the maximum payout for the CCB every year to account for inflation.
If you’re curious what happened to the young child supplement that used to be paid out four times a year to families with children under the age of six, the program was shuttered at the end of 2021 .
Canada Child Benefit eligibility
To qualify for the CCB, you, your spouse, or your common-law partner must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, protected person, or an Indigenous person as defined under the Indian Act. You may also qualify as a temporary resident in Canada for the past 18 months who has a valid permit with resident status for the following month.
You must also meet the following conditions:
- You live with at least one child under the age of 18.
- You’re the person primarily responsible for the child’s care.
- You’re a Canadian resident for tax purposes.
If you have a foster child or care for a child under a kinship or close relationship program, you would only get the CCB if you’re not receiving funds from the Children’s Special Allowances, or CSA, program.
Only one person — the individual primarily responsible for the child’s care — should apply for the CCB. To determine who fills that role in a household with two parents or guardians, ask yourself the following:
- Who takes care of the child’s daily activities and needs?
- Who makes sure the child’s medical needs are met?
- Who arranges child care when needed?
If two individuals share the responsibilities equally and one of them is female, the CRA assumes she is primarily responsible for the child’s care. Therefore, the female parent should apply for the CCB. The female parent can sign a letter stating that the other parent is primarily responsible, however, in which case, the other parent would apply for the CCB.
In the case of same-sex parents, one parent should apply for the CCB for all the children.
If you’re in a joint custody situation, the CRA asks that you calculate how much time each parent spends caring for your child and use this information to apply for the CCB separately.
How to claim the Canada Child Benefit
You can apply for the CCB as soon as a child is born or starts to live with you, or you begin to meet the eligibility requirements.
For example, you can apply for the CCB when you register the birth of your newborn child, usually at the hospital or birthing centre. As long as you provide your consent and social insurance number (SIN), the CRA will get your information.
If you didn’t apply when the child was born, you can apply online via My Account (your personal CRA account) or by mail.
CCB payments are made monthly via direct deposit or cheque, typically around the 20th of each month. If your benefits for the year total less than $240, you’ll receive a single lump-sum payment. As long as you file your taxes every year and continue to meet the eligibility requirements, you should keep receiving the CCB.
Set your frosh up with a budget, the right bank accounts and perhaps a credit card to help them build healthy spending habits and a solid credit profile.