With 2021 just around the corner, thousands of Canadians are facing CERB repayments — some of which could cost up to $12,000.

Earlier this month, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) revealed that hundreds of thousands of claimants had been contacted about repaying the benefit, including self-employed people and students.

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441,000

Canadians have been contacted

Speaking to CBC News, one student revealed that he owes $12,000 in CERB repayments after he claims the CRA led him to believe that he qualified for the money.

Alex Coucopoulos, who studies at the University of Ottawa, received a letter from the agency advising him to pay the debt before 2021, although it said there would be no penalties or interest charged on a later payment if he made an "honest mistake."

Avery Miller, who is a yoga instructor, also owes the CRA $12,000 in CERB returns.

Like thousands of other self-employed people, Miller told CTV News she was confused by the benefit’s eligibility criteria, particularly the income requirements.

“We are literally just taking this $500 a week and scraping by, and now to think about having to pay back this $12,000 over the next few years is pretty scary,” she said.

Similarly, earlier this month, a P.E.I. woman found out that she owed over $18,000 to the government for incorrectly-claimed COVID-19 benefits.

Over the weekend, the CRA admitted that the original application criteria were “unclear,” but the government has no plans to scrap the repayment program.

 
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