UPDATE: This is an update to our original bulletin "CECRA is Dead, Long Live CERS." CERS is currently in effect by virtue of the passing Bill C-9 into law on November 19, 2020. Bill C-9 was enacted without amendment to its original draft. However, Finance Minister Freeland has publicly stated that the Federal Government will introduce legislation to amend the contents of Bill C-9 so as to clarify that qualifying rent expenses will also include "rent payable" and not just "rent paid." Further, based on the Minister's statement, the CERS application website confirms that qualifying rent expenses must be "paid or payable" and clarifies that if the applicant has not paid the amounts due for its qualifying rent expenses yet, the applicant must attest (confirm) that these amounts will be paid within 60 days of the applicant receiving its rent subsidy payment.
On November 19, 2020, Bill C-9 entitled "An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy)" (the "Bill") received Royal Assent. The Income Tax Act (Canada) has now been amended to implement the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy ("CERS") without any changes to the original version of the Bill. CERS is the spiritual successor to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance ("CECRA"). Its purpose is to grant eligible entities relief for rent and mortgage interest relating to commercial real property in Canada. More specifically, CERS provides:
- a base subsidy the amount of which is generally determined by the decline in an eligible entity's monthly revenues, year-over-year, for the applicable calendar month; and
- an additional top-up subsidy called the "Lockdown Support," only available to certain eligible entities who are forced to temporarily close their business due to public health restrictions.
The subsidies can be effective retroactively to September 27, 2020.
For further information about the application procedure, please visit the following link: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-rent-subsidy/cershow-apply.html.
The subsidies apply to any "qualifying rent expense" (discussed below) for any of the following "qualifying periods":
- September 27, 2020, to October 24, 2020;
- October 25, 2020, to November 21, 2020; and
- November 22, 2020, to December 19, 2020.
The Government can add more qualifying periods ending no later than June 30, 2021; however, program parameters may vary
The subsidies are available to "qualifying renters", which includes the following eligible entities:
- taxable corporations and trusts
- registered charities (other than public institutions)
- other prescribed organizations that satisfy certain prescribed eligibility requirements
The qualifying renter must meet one of the following criteria:
- have a payroll account as of March 15, 2020, or have been using a payroll service provider;
- have a business number as of September 27, 2020 (and satisfy the Canada Revenue Agency ("CRA") that it is a bona fide rent subsidy claim); or
- meet other conditions that may be prescribed.
Most importantly, to qualify for the subsidies for a particular qualifying period, the eligible entity must file an application with the CRA in prescribed form by no later than 180 days after the end of such qualifying period.
As a practical note, the qualifying renter does need to show a revenue decline during the qualifying period; its subsidy rate is determined based on its decline in current revenues for the applicable month, as compared to a prior reference period (detailed below).
Nature of the Base Subsidy
CERS subsidizes a portion of the qualifying renter's "qualifying rent expense" during qualifying periods. Qualifying rent expenses must relate to commercial real estate in Canada, which the qualifying renter uses in the course of its ordinary activities.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.