Federal Budget -> COVID-19 Financial Relief -> Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
Deadline for applications: June 30, 2021.
Maximum loan amount: $60,000, with $20k of $60k forgivable.
As of October 26, 2020: Eligible businesses operating through a personal bank account can apply for CEBA - but must open a business account first. See news release.
Timing of Inclusion in Income - Important!
CEBA Pre-Screening Tool to assess eligibility - best viewed in FireFox or Vivaldi
CEBA was launched on April 9, 2020. It provides interest-free bank loans, guaranteed by the government, of up to $40,000 (now $60,000) to small businesses and to not-for-profits that are operating businesses. If the balance of the loan is repaid on or before December 31, 2022, this will result in 25% (up to $10,000) of the $40,000 loan being forgiven, and 50% (up to $10,000) of the $20,000 loan expansion being forgiven.
As of December 4, 2020, CEBA loans increased from $40,000 to $60,000, with $20,000 forgivable. Businesses who have received the $40,000 loan may apply for the $20,000 expansion. However, as of December 4, 2020, not all financial institutions are ready to accept applications for the $60,000 loan or the $20,000 expansion. To see which financial institutions are currently accepting applications for the $60,000 loan or $20,000 expansion, see How can I apply for CEBA on the CEBA website.
For details on the attestation that is required by borrowers, see the Video Tax News article Expanded CEBA program (20,000) now open.
Important: If you're considering applying for the additional $20,000 CEBA loan, be aware that it can change the requirements for the original $40,000 loan. If your attestation for the $40,000 said you could use the funds for "without limitation, payroll" etc., that will be changed to use for only Eligible Non-Deferrable Expenses, which includes only non-arm's length payroll (i.e., not owners' wages). See the Crowe Soberman article CEBA Expansion - Think Twice Before Applying for the Additional $20,000.
Applications are online only, through your financial institution, and cannot be accessed by telephone or at your branch.
CEBA Term Loan information for the big 6 Canadian banks
Applications will now be accepted until March 31, 2021, as per the 2020 Federal Fall Economic Statement.
- expanded to enable businesses and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans, that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic, to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000.
- half of the additional financing is forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022.
- application deadline for CEBA extended to December 31, 2020.
- attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional funding.
- more information to come in the coming days.
If your bank has set up your CEBA loan so that it is a line of credit, it's very important for you to transfer the funds from the line of credit to your operating account, because the forgivable 25% is based on the maximum balance of the loan up to December 31, 2020, at least for the $40,000 loan. See Beware of CEBA accounts set up as LOC's - you might not get the $10,000 loan forgiveness you were expecting. Apparently RBC has set up the CEBA loan like a Visa, which would have the same result.
See the Video Tax News information on CEBA updates which address the RBC loan agreement as well as CEBA uncertainties.
The forgivable portion of the CEBA loan is taxable when received (confirmed by CRA) - see Tax Treatment and Accounting Treatment of Forgivable Loans such as CEBA and CECRA.
Although all applications and approvals are handled by financial institutions, Export Development Canada has set up a CEBA call centre which may help you with any problems you're having with the status of your application. The number is 1-888-324-4201. The centre is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 9 pm EST and will address the following types of questions:
- What is the status of my application
- Why was my application declined?
- Why was my submitted document rejected?
However, our call regarding a couple of general issues not related to a particular application were not answered other than to say that the criteria on the CEBA website are the correct criteria, not necessarily the documentation provided by the financial institution.
The CEBA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) have a list of the types of documents that are considered invalid as proof of 2020 Eligible Non-Deferrable Expenses. Documentation is required for applications under the non-deferrable expenses stream.
Some documentation provided under the payroll stream indicates that "The Borrower is a business that is a sole proprietorship, partnership or a Canadian-controlled private corporation ("CCPC") that was in operation in Canada on March 1, 2020." This would exclude not-for-profit corporations, although the CEBA FAQ indicates that non-profit organizations, registered charities, unions, etc are excluded unless they are actively carrying on a business in Canada that earns revenue from the regular supply of property/goods or services. It would also exclude cooperative corporations, which are not excluded according to the CEBA FAQ.
Other documentation under the payroll stream indicates that "The Borrower was a Canadian operating business in operation as of March 1, 2020." This agrees with the CEBA FAQ.
See Payroll Stream below for conflicting information on payroll to non-arm's length parties.
See the Video Tax News information on CEBA updates which address some CEBA uncertainties.
The Payroll Stream applications are available through your bank, for businesses with payroll of $20,000 to $1,500,000.
CEBA funds can be used to pay non-deferrable operating expenses including payroll.
Can payroll be to non-arm's length parties? It depends on which documentation you look at. Some documentation for payroll stream applications says "without limitation, payroll, ..." and other documentation says "wages and other employment expenses to independent (arm's length) third parties". The CEBA FAQ at first did not say that payroll was limited to arm's length third parties. It changed at some point (perhaps when the non-deferrable expenses stream started?), to say that eligible non-deferrable expenses did not include non-arm's length expenses. We've tried accessing previous versions of the website using the Wayback Machine, but it seems unable to access the previous CEBA website versions.
Non-deferrable expenses also include rent, utilities, insurance, property tax and regularly scheduled debt service. The funds cannot be used to fund prepayment/refinancing of existing debt, payments of dividends, distributions and increases in management compensation.
It's been reported that some CEBA applicants have received notifications from their financial institutions that they are now not eligible for the loans they were approved for and received a long time ago. A reason is not necessarily given, but it appears that if the payroll was $20,000 and not $20,000.01 or more, CRA is deeming the applicant to be ineligible. There is no appeal process.
Anna Malazhavaya, Advotax Law tax lawyer, and Joseph Devaney, CPA, CA of Video Tax News, are trying to get an idea of how big this issue is, and trying to sort out what is going on. If you're a tax preparer who has clients who are affected, go to Anna's LinkedIn post on this, or to the Facebook Canadian Tax Nerds group where there is are posts on this by Anna, who has been contacted by CBC on this. Search the group for "CEBA" to find the posts from Oct 8 and Sep 30 2021.
On May 19, 2020 the government announced the expansion of the CEBA program to include sole proprietors, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.
As with the CEBA payroll stream, this application is done online through your financial institution and cannot be accessed by telephone or your branch.
To qualify, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 (Non-Deferrable Expenses Stream) per year would need:
- a business operating account at a participating financial institution,
- a CRA business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and
- eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million in the 2020 calendar year. This could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities and insurance.
The CEBA FAQ were updated on June 15th regarding applications under the expanded program, with further requirements for applications under the "Non-Deferrable Expenses Stream", including the submission of supporting documentation for 2020 eligible non-deferrable expenses. The process for this type of applications was available starting June 26th. The application process will take longer than the process for those done under the "Payroll Stream". Funding will be received within 10-15 business days for approved applicants.
Update June 30, 2020: CEBA FAQ now has information on exactly which non-deferrable expenses are eligible for the non-deferrable expenses stream, and what documentation must be provided to support these expenses. See the Video Tax News article CEBA FAQ on document upload relased, which also links to the CEBA Upload Guide.
The May 19th press release also said that "the government will work on potential solutions to help business owners and entrepreneurs who operate through their personal bank account, as opposed to a business account, or have yet to file a tax return, such as newly created businesses". As of October 26, 2020, this can now be done.
Revised: October 13, 2021
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