Be prepared for delays as B.C. begins taking applications for COVID-19 benefit | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Be prepared for delays as B.C. begins taking applications for COVID-19 benefit

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
December 18, 2020 - 10:57 AM

Today is the first day you can apply for the tax free B.C. COVID-19 recovery benefit, but a high volume of online applications has slowed the process.

Some users have reported getting an error on the site when making their application for the benefit of up to $1,000.

A Finance Ministry spokesperson says there were about 2,500 applications in the first few minutes of the site opening today, Dec. 18, but the page hasn't crashed and those applying are being urged to be patient.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson has asked the public to be respectful to staff at a Service BC call centre as they help people apply for the benefit, which was promised by the NDP during the election campaign.

An estimated 3.7 million individuals and families, or 90% of all B.C. adults, are eligible for the benefit.

Eligibility includes $1,000 for families with annual incomes under $125,000. Families earning up to $175,000 will qualify for a reduced benefit amount and single-parent families also qualify for these benefit amounts. There is $500 for single people with annual incomes under $62,500 and single people earning up to $87,500 will qualify for a reduced benefit amount.

READ MORE: B.C. begins accepting applications for pandemic recovery benefit Dec. 18

Applying online is the easiest way to receive the benefit. To apply, British Columbians can visit the provincial government website here.

For those without access to a computer or the internet, starting Monday, Dec. 21, call centre agents will be available to assist people who need help applying or those who want to apply over the phone from Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays), from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The toll-free number within North America is 1-833-882-0020.

Most individuals can expect to receive the B.C. Recovery Benefit within five businesses days after completing their application, according to the province.

To apply and be eligible for the one-time, tax-free benefit, people must be a B.C. resident as of Dec. 18, be at least 19-years-old on Dec. 18, have filed a 2019 income tax return, have their 2019 income tax notice of assessment, and if applicable, their spouse’s 2019 income tax notice of assessment, have their Social Insurance Number, and if applicable, their spouse’s, have their direct deposit information, including branch, institution and account number and have their B.C. driver’s licence or confirm they do not have one.

You have until June 2021 to apply.

In the new year, the province will introduce a modified application process for people receiving disability and income assistance who do not have banking services or who have barriers to filing income taxes.

Learn more about the Recovery Benefit online here.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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