Money & Career

How the Universal Child Care Benefit works

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

How the Universal Child Care Benefit works

Welcoming a new child into the world can be an overwhelming experience. It can also be a financial strain on many parents. Luckily, the federal government introduced the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) in July 2006 to help Canadians offset the cost of raising young children under the age of six. Here are five things you should know about how the UCCB works.

1. The UCCB benefit is paid out in installments of $100 per month for each child. Because it is a taxable benefit, the income is usually taxed to the spouse with the lower income.

2. Despite its name, the UCCB is not in any way tied to formal child care. Parents can still receive this benefit even if they choose not to enroll their child in any form of child care.

3. To be eligible for the UCCB, you must be the person who is primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of the child -- which includes supervising the child’s daily activities and needs. While the payment is taxable to the parent with the lower income, the benefit is paid out by default to the mother. However, the recipient could be the father, a grandparent or a guardian.

4. Up until just recently, single parents had no choice but to claim the UCCB benefit in their own income. This could result in part of it being lost to tax. To improve this situation, the Government of Canada changed the rules so that single parents can include the UCCB benefits in the income of the dependent that they are claiming for, providing up to $168 in tax relief.

5. For parents who have separated, measures will be implemented to allow families with joint custody the flexibility to split the monthly UCCB amount when a child lives in two different households.

You should apply for the UCCB as soon as possible after your child is born, a child starts to live with you or you become a resident of Canada. However, if you realize that you are eligible to receive the UCCB, but have not applied, don’t fret. Parents who apply late are eligible to receive up to 11 months of retroactive payments, plus a payment for the month in which their application was received.

To learn more about eligibility, visit the CRA website. You can also apply for the UCCB by logging into your CRA account online.


Krystal Yee is a marketing professional living in Vancouver. She writes about personal finance at Give Me Back My Five Bucks, and the Toronto Star’s Moneyville.ca. You can reach her on Twitter (@krystalatwork).
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How the Universal Child Care Benefit works

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