With growing economic uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial landscape is shifting every day.
Whether it's dealing with sudden unemployment, ballooning debt, or expenses related to working from home, BNN Bloomberg wants to help Canadians navigate these uncharted waters.
That’s why we created Ask BNN Bloomberg, where you can have your personal finance questions answered by industry professionals.
Email or send your questions via video to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will aim to answer them weekly.
Questions and answers have been edited for clarity. Last names will not be used.
Can I apply for CEBA for multiple store locations?
Jaya in Brampton, Ont.:
I operate my business from several locations. I have different business bank accounts for each location.
I have payroll too that's more than $20,000 at each location and I have been paying payroll deductions too from the different accounts; but as they are under the same company, I have one payroll account and one payroll summary.
Can I apply for Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) for each of the locations? (June 13, 2020)
Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Wealth Advisory Service:
The Canada Emergency Business Account provides qualifying businesses with up to $40,000 of a loan of which 25 per cent can be forgivable, as long as it’s paid back by the end of 2022.
To qualify, there are a couple of criteria: you have to have a payroll of more than $20,000 and under $1.5 million; or if you have a payroll below $20,000 you have to have non-deferrable expenses of $40,000 or more, and that would be things like rent, property taxes and utilities.
Unfortunately, the loan is limited to one loan per business. It’s based on your payroll number, so even if you have multiple locations that each pay more than $20,000 of payroll you are limited to one loan per business based on the CRA business number or payroll account. (July 6, 2020)
Applying for EI or CERB?
Daniel in Montreal:
I am a salaried contract worker and I was on employment insurance (EI) sick leave on February 16. I work as a technician in a theatre and my sickness benefits have ended.
My company will pay me via the 75 per cent federal wage subsidy until my contract ends in mid-July. There is no prospect of work in my field at that time.
Can I apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) at that time, or apply for EI regular benefits unti I find other employment? What are my options? (June 10, 2020)
Melissa Leong, financial speaker and author of Happy Go Money:
If your contract ends this month and you cannot find a job due to the pandemic, you are eligible to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) so long as you meet the requirements (had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the last year, for example).
If you've exhausted your EI benefits between December 29 and October 3, you are also eligible for the CERB. (June 30, 2020)
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Managing a ‘negative’ income during COVID-19
John in Vancouver:
I work as an independent travel agent for a travel agency. My income is based solely on my sales.
Since the government shut down international travel, my income has been negative due to cancellations and refunds. Tour operators have recalled commissions that they paid for sales we made with them - which means I now owe my "employer" commissions that were paid to me before the shutdown for sales that are now cancelled or refunded.
So in effect I am working (dealing with cancellations) but have had zero income since the shutdown.
Do I qualify for CERB? (July 8, 2020)
Dilys D'Cruz, VP and head of wealth management at Meridian Credit Union:
The travel industry has been particularly hard hit through this whole pandemic and I truly sympathize with your current situation.
The good news is that the government most recently announced that they are extending the CERB by an additional eight weeks until October 3 of this year.
Now in looking at your particular situation, I do believe you’re eligible to receive CERB because you’re not making any income right now and as a matter of fact you’re in a negative position because you have to pay back previous commissions.
So assuming that you made $5,000 last year or over the 12 month period and you don’t make more than $1,000 over 14 days within the four week period of your claim, then I do believe you will be able to receive the CERB.
Now with the travel industry actively lobbying the government, I do hope that you will continue to see some changes made to the CERB given that the travel industry is restricted and unable to resume business. I do wish you well and all the best. (July 7, 2020)
Can I contribute to a RRSP and lower my income to apply for CERB?
Serena in Edmonton:
I am in Alberta and am temporary laid off due to COVID-19 and since I made over $5,000 in the last 12 months I qualify for CERB.
However, I was recently offered a job I would really like to accept, only it’s part-time and does not offer me many hours. I would be making roughly $1,200 a week before tax.
If I make extra contributions to my Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) from my employment income, could I still qualify for CERB?
Also as a student I have a lot of unused, carry-forward credit from tuition costs. Will this be usable for amounts owing on CERB, if it puts me over the income bracket this year?
A little confused on how the taxes will end up being calculated if you made income while applying for CERB, but will still most likely be under the low-income bracket as a student.
Thank you in advance for any help! (June 28, 2020)
Robin Taub, CPA, CA, author of Raising Money-Smart Kids, How to Teach Your Kids about Money While Learning a Few Things Yourself:
When submitting subsequent claims for CERB, you can’t have made more than $1,000 in employment income for the entire four-week benefit period of your new claim. If you’re making $1,200 a week, it appears you don’t qualify.
Making extra contributions to an RRSP will lower your overall taxable income, which includes income you earned from employment and from CERB. The amount of tax owing will depend on that taxable income amount and the tax bracket you’re in.
If you claim your unused tuition credits from prior years, you’ll get a tax credit, which along with any tax withheld by your employer at source, will reduce your taxes otherwise owing. (July 9, 2020)
To have your personal finance question answered an industry professional, send an email to email@example.com.