Since 2020, the Canada Housing Benefit has provided financial assistance to renters struggling to cover their monthly housing costs.
But with decades-high inflation impacting these renters’ ability to pay for shelter, utilities and food, the federal government has decided more help is needed.
On December 12, 2022, eligible renters will be able to apply for a one-time Canada Housing Benefit top-up payment of $500.
Let’s find out if you qualify for the top-up and how you can apply for it.
The Canada Housing Benefit top-up: Who qualifies?
You do not have to be receiving the Canada Housing Benefit, which is administered at the provincial level, to qualify for the new top-up payment. But there are several eligibility requirements you must meet before applying.
You should receive the Canada Housing Benefit top-up if:
- You were at least 15 years old on December 1, 2022.
- You were renting a principal residence in Canada on December 1, 2022.
- You are a resident of Canada in 2022 for tax purposes.
- You had an adjusted net income of $20,000 or less (for individuals) or $35,000 or less (for families).
- You filed your 2021 income tax return or statement of income. Even if you had no income to report in 2021, you still have to submit a 2021 tax return. If you have a spouse or common law partner, the same requirement applies to them.
- The rent you paid in 2022 was equal to at least 30% of your 2021 adjusted net income. Canada.ca has a tool you can use to estimate this ratio.
Before you apply for the top-up
If you’re eligible for the Canadian Housing Benefit top-up, there are a few other things you can do to get ready to apply.
- Ensure you have the addresses of any principal residences you rented in Canada in 2022.
- Verify that you have accurate contact information for anyone you paid rent to in 2022.
- Open a CRA My Account. Applying for the top-up through your CRA account is the fastest method.
- Update your direct deposit information with the CRA. Direct deposit is the fastest way to receive payment.
Other important details
Apply only for yourself
Applications for the Canadian Housing Benefit top-up cannot be made on behalf of someone else.
No impact to federal benefits
Your top-up payment will not be considered taxable income, nor will it reduce other federal benefits you might be receiving, like the Canada Workers Benefit, Canada Child Benefit, GST Credit or Guaranteed Income Supplements. The impact on your provincial or territorial benefits “will be determined at the discretion of each province or territory,” according to the federal government.
Only eligible rent expenses can be used when applying for the top-up. For rent expenses to be considered eligible, they must be put toward a primary residence that you occupy as part of a lease, license or other rental arrangement. Any utilities or taxes that aren’t included in your rental agreement cannot be included in these calculations.
Adjusted net income
Determining your household’s adjusted net income will require a little bit of math on your part.
- Add line 23600 of your 2021 tax return to any world income that may not have been reported to the CRA. If you live with a partner or spouse, add their totals, too.
- Subtract any universal child care benefit (UCCB) or registered disability savings plan (RDSP) income your household has received. You’ll find these numbers on lines 11700 and 12500 on your tax return.
- Add any UCCB and RDSP amounts repaid. These figures will be lines 21300 and 23200 on your tax return.
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is a shared-equity program that lends buyers 5% or 10% of a home’s price to reduce their mortgage costs.
Buying a home means more control and the ability to build equity. Renting is more flexible and might be cheaper. The best option depends on your personal circumstance and goals.