Scenario:

Charlie and Liz came to Canada last September. They are refugee claimants because they received death threats in their native country. They got married six years ago in Europe.

Charlie and Liz have two children together. Their oldest child is Juan Andres. Juan Andres is four years old and he is a refugee claimant too. Their youngest child is Samuel and he was born last June in Toronto.

Although Charlie and Liz are safe in Canada, their relationship has become strained. The couple has therefore been living separately for four months. Charlie and Liz have shared custody of Juan Andres, who lives with each of his parents for two weeks per month. Samuel lives full time with his mother, Liz. 

Charlie and Liz received a notice from Canada Immigration informing them that the refugee claimant hearing will be held on August 15, 2012.

Charlie and Liz submitted their 2011 income taxes declaration on time, but they do not know if they are eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefit for both of their children. Charlie and Liz are particularly unsure about Juan Andres because he was born outside of Canada and his refugee application has not been accepted yet.

The couple also does not know if they are eligible because their refugee claim has not been accepted yet and they live separately.

LEGAL INFORMATION

What is Canada child tax benefit?

The Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is a non-taxable amount paid monthly to help eligible families with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age.

Are Charlie and Liz eligible for both of their children?

To get the CCTB, Charlie and Liz must meet all of the following conditions:

1. They must live with the child, and the child must be under 18 years of age.

2. They must be primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of the child.

In this case, both Charlie and Liz may be considered primarily responsible for the care of Juan Andres. This is because parents who have shared custody of their child are still considered primarily responsible for the care of the child if the shared custody is “equal or near equal.” Assuming Charlie and Liz meet the other conditions, each parent would receive 50% of the payment he or she would have received if the child lived with him or her full time.

3. They must be a resident of Canada for tax purposes. The Canadian Government considers someone to be a resident of Canada when you establish sufficient residential ties in Canada.

Charlie or Liz must be:

  • a Canadian citizen; OR
  • a permanent resident (as defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act); OR
  • a protected person (as defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act); OR
  • a temporary resident (as defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) who has lived in Canada throughout the previous 18 months, and who has a valid permit in the 19th month other than one that states “does not confer status” or “does not confer temporary resident status.” 

How do Charlie and Liz apply?

Charlie and Liz can apply for the CCTB by using “Apply for child benefits” at www.cra.gc.ca/myaccount or by sending in a completed Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application. Because Charlie and Liz were residents of Canadafor part of 2011 they must both file a 2011 income tax and benefit return before the government can calculate their benefit. To continue getting the CCTB, they both have to file their own income tax and benefit returns for every year that they are residents of Canada, even if they have no income to report. Charlie and Liz will also have to submit schedule RC66SCH, Status in Canada/Statement of Income because they are not yet Canadian citizens.

How does the government calculate the benefit?  

The CCTB consists of a basic benefit, a national child benefit supplement and a child disability benefit. For the benefit year July 2012 to June 2013, the government will calculate Charlie and Liz’s benefit based on:

  • the number of qualified children they have and their ages;
  • their province or territory of residence;
  • their adjusted family net income for the base year 2011; and
  • their child’s eligibility for the disability tax credit.

In conclusion, Charlie and Liz will begin to receive the benefit for Juan Andres if their refugee claim is accepted because it is at that moment that the couple will become protected persons in Canada. Liz may begin to receive the benefit for Samuel right away because the new baby is a Canadian citizen and is therefore entitled to the benefit since the day of his birth. Liz will receive the full CCTB amount for Samuel because she lives with him all the time. Charlie and Liz will each get 50% of any potential payments for Juan Andres because they split the duties of raising him roughly equally.

For more information, please go to www.cra.gc.ca/cctb or call 1-800-387-1193.

This post was written by PLE Team volunteer Lina Maria Sanchez. Lina Maria was a lawyer in her Native Columbia.  It was reviewed by JFCY.