The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has expanded its so-called snitch line to any tips and leads about suspected fraud in the federal government’s COVID-19 emergency aid programs.
An update to the webpage for the agency’s National Leads Program Monday, states that the CRA is now accepting information about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
“If you suspect a potential misuse of the COVID-19 emergency benefits and programs, the National Leads Centre is currently accepting leads on these programs,” reads CRA’s website.
The agency, which has records of everyone who has received a CERB or CESB payment, says it is also “verifying to make sure the payments were correctly allocated,” and is conducting “various pre-payment verifications and post-payment reviews” for the CEWS.
Through the Leads Program – the CRA’s snitch line – Canadians can report any person, business or charity that they suspect of tax or benefit cheating. Through the program, Canadians can report, for example, anyone not declaring all income, setting up a fake business to claim losses and reduce taxes, or accepting cash payments “under the table.”
But now, the agency is looking for information on anyone who may be misusing the federal COVID-19 benefit programs, including those who are receiving the CERB or CESB when they are ineligible, or businesses and charities that are “misuing” the CEWS.
“The CRA uses the information in your lead to make sure the tax system is fair for all Canadians,” reads the website. “Your lead could also boost the actions the CRA is already taking to fight cheating.”
Anyone who submits a lead will remain anonymous and will not be asked to disclose personal information about themselves.
Previously, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended the rollout of the COVID-19 emergency benefits, in response to reports that fraudsters were targeting the CERB.
“We made the deliberate choice to get the money out the door to millions of Canadians who needed it and go after – retroactively – people who may have defrauded the system,” Trudeau said May 15.