Looking for some extra cash this summer? You may need to look no further than the Canada Revenue Agency’s website.
On Monday, the government revealed it has approximately $1.4-billion worth of cheques that have gone uncashed over the years. As of May 2022, there were an estimated 8.9 million uncashed cheques with the CRA.
You may wonder how is this possible? And what can I do to get my money?
Each year, the CRA issues millions of payments in the form of tax refunds and various government benefits. Most of these payments are issued via direct deposit, but some are still issued by cheque. Over time, some of these cheques remain uncashed for a variety of reasons, such as the taxpayer misplacing them or, perhaps, the cheque was never delivered to its recipient due to a change of address.
Beginning this month, the CRA will start notifying, via e-mail, some recipients of the Canada child benefit and its related provincial/territorial programs, GST/HST credit and Alberta Energy Tax Refund recipients of any uncashed cheques they may have.
The average amount per uncashed cheque is $158. Approximately 25,000 e-notifications will be issued in August and another 25,000 in November, followed by another 25,000 in May 2023.
Since the CRA first launched this initiative back in 2020, it said approximately two million uncashed cheques, valued at a total of $802 million, were cashed by Canadians between Feb. 10, 2020, and May 31, 2022.
To see if you’ve got any uncashed cheques waiting for you, simply log into the CRA’s My Account where you’ll be able to see if you have any uncashed cheques dating back as far as 1998.
Once logged in, you’ll see an option under “related services” entitled “uncashed cheques.” As government cheques never expire or become stale dated, the CRA cannot void the original cheque and reissue a new one unless you request it. The upcoming e-notifications are meant to encourage taxpayers to cash any cheques they may have in their possession.
“This money belongs to Canadians and we want to help them reclaim these funds,” Breanne Stephenson, a CRA spokesperson, said.
Of course, to ensure you never miss another payment from the CRA, it’s best to sign up for direct deposit so that your government tax refunds and benefit payments are directly deposited into your bank account. This can also be easily done through My Account.
Taxpayers who are not currently signed up for My Account or email notifications can find out if they have any uncashed cheques by calling 1-800-959-8281.
Jamie Golombek, CPA, CA, CFP, CLU, TEP, is the managing director, Tax & Estate Planning with CIBC Private Wealth in Toronto. Jamie.Golombek@cibc.com
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