B.C. taxpayer makes CERB repayment and battles to receive income tax refund

A B.C. woman is sharing her frustration after failing to get her income tax refund for months despite having repaid $2,000 in CERB money on time.

“I go online to look at my income tax and my refund has been given to CERB,” said Janice deFreitas.

The Delta resident says she reached out to the CRA immediately who then directed her to Employment and Social Development Canada.

She says she was promised her tax refund in three weeks. “This was in April. All I kept getting from them were letters telling me I have a credit of $644.41,” said deFreitas.

Back in the Spring of 2020, deFreitas applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit when the dentist’s office where she works temporarily shut down due to the pandemic.

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“Now, I don’t have a job. So when the CERB came, I jumped on it. I had bills to pay,” she said.

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Earlier this year, deFreitas received notice to pay the pandemic support money back to the federal government by the end of March.

“On March 31, I transfer them $2,000. I’d already done my income tax so now I’m thinking that’s ok I have a refund coming,” she said.

However, it would be months before deFreitas would see that money. She says Employment and Social Development Canada told her it was escalating her case, but she was no closer to a resolution. “I know it’s not a lot of money, but I want it. It’s mine,” said deFreitas.

After waiting months, she reached out to Consumer Matters for help. Within a few days, $644.41  was deposited into deFreitas’ account.

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Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) told Consumer Matters in a statement the refund delay is due to a timing issue around the CRA set-off program where an individual’s tax refunds may be applied against debts the individual owes to the Crown.

“During the height of the pandemic, ESDC had put a pause on the CRA set-off program given the financial impact that some Canadians were facing. The CRA set-off program was reinstated as of February 2022. In this situation, there was a timing issue from the time the client paid the debt in full and when the CRA set-off was initiated. Both transactions occurred within 9 days of each other. The payment was applied after the CRA set-off, resulting in an overpayment,” Employment and Social Development Canada said.

Still, deFreitas says she wishes someone could have given her an explanation when she first reached out for answers.

“You accomplished in a day what I couldn’t accomplish in four months, so thank you so much, “deFreitas told Consumer Matters.

Employment and Social Development Canada says it’s experiencing a high volume of requests at this time and is “working to action these requests in a timely manner.”

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