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Published December 14, 2021

What is the Canada Child Benefit?

The Canada Child Benefit — formerly the Canada Child Tax Credit — is a monthly payment available to parents and caretakers of children.

Raising kids can be expensive, but qualifying families can receive tax-free monthly payments from the government to help with some of the costs.

Known as the Canada Child Benefit, the amount your family gets will depend on factors like household income, family size, and province or territory of residence. Fortunately, the process of applying for this assistance is straightforward and quick.

What is the Canada Child Benefit?

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 tax-free monthly payment made directly to families with children under 18 years old. It’s handled by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), but you don’t need to include it on your income tax return — you just need to file your income taxes every 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.

» MORE: What Canadian employees should know about T4 slips

How much is the Canada child benefit?

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 $32,028, you can receive up to the following amounts per child:

  • Under six years of age: $6,833 per year ($569.41 per month)
  • Six to 17 years of age: $5,765 per year ($480.41 per month)

Since the CCB is meant to deliver assistance to lower-income families, payments start to decrease if your AFNI exceeds $32,028. 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 exactly 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.

There’s also a young child supplement that’s paid out four times a year to families with children under the age of six. To get this benefit, you must file your income taxes.

» MORE: What is a kids bank account?

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 will calculate how much each parent qualifies for based on your custody arrangement.

» MORE: How does Canada’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) work?

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. As long as you file your taxes every year and continue to meet the eligibility requirements, you’ll continue to get the CCB.

About the Author

Barry Choi
Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a personal finance and travel expert. His website moneywehave.com is one of Canada's most trusted sites when it comes to all things related to money and travel. You can reach him on Twitter: @barrychoi.

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