Navigating and understanding the audits of COVID-19 support payments requires expert assistance the RSW advisors can assist you with.
The early days of COVID-19 saw the introduction of several government programs aimed at supporting individuals and businesses as economic activity came to a virtual standstill. The government prized speed of giving out the support payments over determining need and even eligibility and rules were changed frequently as the government had more information available on the best ways of directing the support to those who needed them most.
Now that we are in more stable economic times, an analysis of those payments has shown that billions of payments were made to ineligible recipients. In fact, the Auditor General of Canada recently reported that an estimated $4.6 billion was paid to individuals who were not entitled to receive the funds. Additionally, more than $27 billion in payments needs to be further investigated to determine if the recipients were qualified for the funds, including $15.5 billion designated for employers that received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). While the agencies have recouped more than $2 billion of those funds, that leaves a lot of taxpayer money in the wind.
Keep in mind COVID benefits and assistance took many forms and a whole new series of acronyms were introduced to our vocabulary. While most of the benefits were administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), others were through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the major commercial banks, and through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) There were also provincial support payments, all adding to the complexity of complying with eligibility rules.
Government agencies in Canada have started to review the eligibility of recipients for some of the support payments. Many individuals have received letters from CRA asking for additional information supporting the CERB payments. We have started to receive information requests from CMHC concerning payments made under the CECRA program. Audit requests for payments made under the wage subsidy (CEWS) program have also started several months ago.
We expect much discussion about how to determine if recipients were indeed eligible to receive the COVID-19 subsidies from various sources and have already had clients approach us for help with COVID-related audits. Keep in mind that receiving an audit letter does not mean that you were not eligible to receive the subsidy – it simply means that the agency wants to look more closely at your particular case. It is important to respond properly and helps to have the support of knowledgeable advisors on your side.
If you need help with an audit, we know how to respond, the documentation to provide, and how to navigate the process. Calling for the assistance of a resource that understands what to expect and has helped others under similar circumstances can reduce your stress and streamline the process. Let us know if we can help in any way. Contact us or email us at email@example.com