On Tuesday, Finance Minister Selina Robinson revealed Christmas could be coming early for millions of British Columbians — but only if they apply to a new pandemic recovery benefit in time.
The tax-free B.C. Recovery Benefit is set to provide funding for about 3.7 million British Columbians, according to a written statement from Robinson’s office Dec. 8. If the legislation introduced Tuesday goes through, families and individuals will be able to start applying for the benefit as early as Dec. 18, setting them up for deposits by Christmas Eve.
Here’s what we know so far.
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL I GET?
A $1,000 benefit applies to families with a combined household income of less than $125,000 per year. Payments to families making more than that will be granted on a sliding scale up to $170,000.
Individuals making less than $62,000 a year will be eligible for a one-time $500 payment, with those earning up to $87,000 also eligible for a payment along a sliding scale.
AM I ELIGIBLE?
In order to apply, you’ll need to satisfy the following conditions:
- Be a resident of B.C. on Dec. 18, 2020
- Be at least 19-years-old as on Dec. 18, 2020
- Have filed a 2019 income tax return
- Have your 2019 income tax notice of assessment, and if applicable, your spouse’s as well
- Have your social insurance number
- Have your direct deposit information at a preferred bank account
- Have your B.C. driver’s licence
HOW DO I APPLY?
Applying online is the best way to ensure you get the money as soon as possible, according to a Government of B.C. press release.
Online applications begin Dec. 18 and can be accessed at gov.bc.ca/recoverybenefit
Agents will also be available to assist applicants by phone starting Dec. 21. Within North America, call toll free at 1-833-882-0020. Lines will be open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
HOW LONG WILL I HAVE TO WAIT?
Most eligible applicants are expected to receive their benefit within five business days, though the government warns that any application requiring manual review to determine eligibility will take longer based on the volume of applications, notes a government spokesperson.
Telephone wait times are also expected to be long in the first few weeks the applications are open. Apply online to avoid that wait, recommends the ministry spokesperson.
HOW LONG CAN I WAIT BEFORE APPLYING?
Eligible British Columbians have until June 30, 2021, to apply to the B.C. Recovery Benefit.