Taxpayer watchdog tracking CRA efforts to collect on overpayment of COVID-19 benefits

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OTTAWA — The office of Canada's Taxpayers' Ombudsperson says it is monitoring complaints from people who say they've continued to receive collection letters from the Canada Revenue Agency despite having repaid the government for COVID-19 benefits they did not qualify for.

François Boileau's office says in a press release published today that it continues to receive such complaints and will launch a former investigation if necessary.

The ombudsperson says it is possible that people found out about their overpayments from other sources, such as another government department, then paid the money back without the CRA's knowledge.

The auditor general's office reported in December the federal government gave $4.9 billion worth of pandemic benefits to ineligible recipients, including subsidies for wages.

It also found another $27.4 billion in payments to individuals and businesses should be further investigated.

The CRA, which did not respond to a request for comment, has struggled to recover that money, collecting only $2.3 billion through voluntary repayments as of December.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press