Do you have a low-income or modest income for your household size? Does your household include children? You may qualify for the Alberta Child and Family Benefit.
Who Is Eligible?
You may receive the Alberta Child and Family Benefit (ACFB) if you:
- Reside in Alberta
- Have children less than 18 years old
- Have low or modest income
- Qualify for the Canada Child Benefit
- File your taxes
The ACFB is an excellent program to help families in the province. As of 2020, the program now combines the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit and the Alberta Child Benefit.
When to Apply
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recommends you apply after a few scenarios happen.
If you give birth to a child, you will need to register your child's birth with the Alberta Vital Statistics office. You need to give consent to share the registration.
You should also apply for the Alberta Child Benefit when you start or change a custody agreement.
When a child moves in with you, you can also apply. The last condition is if you or your spouse start to meet the eligibility requirements, such as living in Alberta.
Other eligibility requirements include having a child under 18, filing a tax return, and making less than $43,295.
You should also know that you can apply for the Alberta Child and Family Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) using the same form. The same application will determine your eligibility for both programs.
How to Apply
Once you figure out that you're eligible and it's time to apply for the Alberta Child Benefit, you have a few options.
For one, you can receive the Alberta Child and Family Benefit as long as you qualify for the Canada Child Benefit.
However, you can apply for the Canada Child Benefit separately if you want to make sure you obtain the money instead of relying on your tax return.
You can register the birth at the birthing centre or hospital, and you can fill out some paper forms, such as the RC66. Then, you can automatically apply for the benefit.
You can expect your first payment about eight weeks after the CRA receives your application, provided you apply online.
You'll need to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and give your consent to the Vital Statistics Agency. Without your consent, the Vital Statistics Agency can't share the birth with the CRA. If that happens, you will have to send Form RC66.
If you don't give consent for the Vital Statistics Agency to share the birth with the CRA, you can apply by mail. You may not have to give consent if you adopt a child or bring a child into your home after their birth.
To qualify, you’ll have to be the child’s primary caregiver, and the child must live with you.
You can print and fill out the RC66 Canada Child Benefits Application. Then, you will need to mail it to the tax centre serving Alberta residents.
After mailing your application, it can take about 11 weeks to receive your first payment. You should only apply by mail if you adopt a child or move to Canada after your child is born since otherwise, you can go through the Vital Statistics Agency.
Another convenient way to apply for the Canada Child Benefit and the Alberta Child and Family Benefit is to use your CRA My Account. Once you log into the website, click on "Apply for child benefits."
It will ask you to confirm your contact information and marital status. Then, you can add your child's name, gender, birth date, and place of birth. Finally, you can review and submit your account.
Applying online can be quick because you can upload any extra documents that your application requires. Extra documents can include the child’s birth certificate, your birth certificate or Canadian passport, and a lease agreement.
If the male parent is the main caregiver, you may also need a letter from the mother of the child. However, two male parents don’t need to submit this.
More Details on Additional Documents
In some cases, you will need to provide additional documents when you apply for benefits. While this won't always happen, it's important to consider.
If you do need to provide the documents, you can help the CRA process your application. The CRA won’t have to ask you for each document, which can extend the time it takes to process your application.
You may need to provide extra documentation for the following:
Child's Proof of Birth
If you're applying for a child for the first time and they're at least a year old, you will need to provide proof of their birth. The same is true if your child was born outside of Canada and you've moved here.
You can use these documents to provide proof of birth:
- A birth registration form
- A birth certificate
- A passport
- The hospital birth record
If you have a record of landing or a permanent resident card for the child from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, you can also use that to provide proof.
Male Primary Caregiver
This rule applies to families with a male and a female parent. If the male is the primary caregiver for the child, the mother of the children will need to sign a letter stating that the man takes care of the children.
The letter doesn’t affect a mother’s custody, but it does clarify that the father stays home and cares for his children more.
You will need to mail the letter and Form RC66 to your local tax centre. According to the CRA, you have to mail the letter and can’t submit it online.
When a family has two male parents, either male can be the primary caregiver without a letter from the other.
New to Canada
When moving to Canada, you have a lot to consider, such as getting health insurance.
You'll need to fill out RC66SCH, which is a form stating your income for the purpose of getting child benefits. While this applies to the Canada Child Benefit, filling it out can help you receive the Alberta Child and Family Benefit if you qualify.
You can download a PDF or order an alternate format, such as digital audio, Braille, or large print. The CRA lets you order these files online.
One of the advantages of getting a child and family benefit in Canada is that you can apply later. That way, you can receive the maximum benefits that you qualify for, including retroactive payments.
However, applying months after you give birth or adopt a child first may require more documents to verify your eligibility.
You'll need to provide:
- Proof of birth for each child
- Proof of your residency
- Proof of your citizenship
- A record of the child's school registration or something similar
You will need to mail all of these documents to your tax centre as part of your application. That way, you can have the benefit moving forward and receive retroactive payments.
How Much You Should Expect to Receive
There are two components to the ACFB. First is the base part, which you can qualify for with a low enough income, below $43,295 for 2020.
Families who earn employment income over that threshold can also qualify for the working portion.
If you earn more than $43,295 or your working income is less than $2,760, you won't earn the annual maximum benefit. The benefit also encourages families to work by offering benefits with more income up to a certain amount.
Consider the maximum amount you can receive with different family sizes.
You can earn up to $1,330 if you have an only child, which is about $110.83 each month. This benefit goes down if your family's net income is more than $24,467 per year.
If your family has a working income of at least $2,760 a year, you can also qualify for the employment component. Families with an only child can get up to $681, or $56.57 per month. After earning $41,000, this benefit will decrease.
If your family has two children, you will earn more money. You will get the same $1,330 per year for the first child, and you can receive up to $665 for the second child. This adds up to $166.24 per month.
If you qualify for the working part, you can receive $681 for your first child and $620 for your second. Assuming you qualify for the full benefit, you can have $108.41 per month. After you earn more than $41,000 the amounts will go down.
The base portion benefit for families with three children is similar to those for families with two children. You will receive the same amount as a family with two kids, but you can have an extra $665 per year or $55.41 each month.
If you qualify for the working portion, you can earn the initial $681 plus $620 for the second child, and another $371 for the third child. These amounts apply to families earning up to $41,000 a year, and the benefit decreases after that.
Four or More Children
If your family has more children, you can obtain an extra $665. You'll earn all of the same benefits as a family with three children as well. You can receive the full benefits if your income is less than $24,467.
If you work, you can also qualify for the working part. A family of this size can obtain $123 as well as the previous total of $1,672 per year. The total working component for families earning less than $41,000 would be about $149.57 per month.
When You Receive the Benefits
The CRA handles payments for both the Alberta Child and Family Benefit as well as the Canada Child Benefit. If you qualify for assistance, you will receive your ACFB payments once each quarter in February, May, August, and November.
You can get your payments through the mail or direct deposit into your bank account.
After You Apply
After you apply for the Alberta Child Benefit, your work isn't done. Because family situations change, you will need to make the same amount and have the same number of children each year.
Any change in your household can change your eligibility. If you notice that your payments change or stop coming, consider a few reasons why.
Why Your Payment Changed
You may see an increase or decrease in your payments. If you have more children, and you consented for the Vital Statistics Agency to report that, you can get more money.
Your benefits may increase if you adopt a child or gain custody in another way. The same can happen if you apply for the benefit after your child is born because of retroactive payments.
However, all government-provided child benefits only apply from birth to the age of 18. You may also see your benefits decrease if your income exceeds either the threshold for the two components.
Your marital status and residence can also affect your payment amounts and other benefits you may need. For example, if you qualify for the benefit as a single person, your income and taxes may change if your new spouse works.
Why Your Payment Stopped
If your payments stop completely, it may be that you didn't file your taxes. You may also lose your benefits if you open a new bank account and don’t change the information with the CRA. The same is true if you move within Alberta but don't give the CRA your correct address.
Other changes, such as income, can also cause the payments to stop. If you stop working, you would lose the working part of the benefit. And if you start making more, then you'd lose both components.
Understanding the Alberta Child and Family Benefit
The Alberta Child and Family Benefit is an excellent program that can help if you are residents in this province and are considered low income. You can receive benefits for each child which most certainly helps to provide for their basic needs.
Often times, parents use a portion of their government provided children's benefits to contribute to their RESP's. Find out more about that here on our blog!