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Canadian government building in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canadian government building in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Inflation is rising, the cost of living is way up and Quebecers may be struggling to afford the basics right now. The government has announced several plans to help offset the financial pressure on some households, through measures like tax credits and inflation relief.

It can be hard to navigate the government information about these initiatives, so here's a quick guide to accessing and benefiting from the government's proposed financial relief measures.

GST Tax credit

The Canadian government has proposed legislation that would temporarily double the GST tax credit, which intends to help lower-income Canadians by offsetting the cost of sales tax. Eligibility for the credit depends on your income, relationship status, and number of children, as explained on the government's website.

What's new in the latest proposal is a doubling of the GST for six months, which would increase the amount of money received by every household, depending on eligibility criteria. Credits are normally split between two periods of six months, meaning that the new doubling would apply to one credit period and not the other.

This means that, although the language of the proposal talks about doubling the credit, it only doubles half of the total amount given over one year. For example, a single parent with one child who is eligible for the highest credit value would get $773 split between the two credit periods.

The new proposal would mean that, instead of receiving two payments of $386.50, the family would receive a payment of $386.50 and another of $773.

$500 Inflation relief cheques

François Legault's government, which is likely to remain in power come Monday's election, has promised to issue $500 relief cheques to offset the effects of rising inflation across the province. Any adult — who was 18 as of December 31, 2021 — who earned less than $105,000 in 2021 is eligible for the payment.

For those who earn between $101,000 and $105,000, the total amount is reduced slightly to reflect the higher income. If you were exempt from paying taxes in 2021, you're unfortunately ineligible for the payment.

To receive your cheque, you don't need to do anything: Revenu Québec will automatically process the payment as they process tax filings for this year. In all likelihood, if you're eligible, you will have already received the bonus sometime in May of this year.

First-time homebuyers TFSA

This new tax-free savings account is intended to help first-time homebuyers save money to make that next step in their lives. The account is expected to be rolled out sometime in 2023, with an annual contribution limit of $8,000.

All contributions made to your TFSA will be tax-deductible, as are any withdrawals made once you're ready to buy your dream house. There's already a Home Buyer's Plan in place that serves a similar purpose, and it's worth noting that you won't be able to withdraw from both your TFSA and your Home Buyer's Plan for the same house.

The TFSA will hopefully make the cost of a home less daunting for new buyers, also contributing to offsetting the effects of increased inflation and skyrocketing cost of living.

Canadian housing benefit "top-up"

If you're a renter, far from being ready to invest in your own property, don't worry: there are still some government funds available to you. Low-income Canadian renters can expect a $500 payment to help in the struggle to afford housing.

The payment is set to be launched sometime in 2022, pending approval from Parliament and Royal Assent (from newly-crowned King Charles III). Eligible renters must make less than $35,000 in net income for a family, and less than $20,000 for a single person.

It'll be offered by application through the Canadian Revenue Agency, and you must have filed your 2021 taxes to be eligible in the first place. To qualify for this support, you'll need to pay at least 30% of your adjusted net income on housing or shelter. The CRA estimates 1.8 million people would benefit from this measure, and hopefully one of those people can be you.

    Willa Holt
    Staff Writer
    Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused on apartments for rent and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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