When the CERB program started, it was clear that many people would abuse the system and receive $2,000 a month, even when they didn’t deserve it (legally … not morally). CRA officials and the Canadian government was aware of the fact. But they didn’t stop the big machine, because the goal was and still is to get the money to people most in need.
But now that things have settled down, at least in part, the CRA is looking into individuals who took advantage of a system that was supposed to help people. For now, the penalty isn’t “harsh.” That is to say, there isn’t a penalty at all. CRA will just make the fraudulent claimants pay the CERB money back. As for people who mistakenly took the CERB money, 190,000 repayments have already been made.
The word snitch makes the process sound ugly and betraying, and, if you are a fan of cop shows, even a bit dangerous. But there is another way of looking at it. Don’t think about the fact that you will betray the trust of someone you know by telling CRA anonymously that someone has unjustly taken the CERB payment. Think instead of the genuinely needy person or family that didn’t get the CERB payment because the wrong person did.
When times are tough, the lines of morality often get blurred. Yet these are the times when the best and worst of humanity come forward. If you think it’s enough that you are not doing something wrong yourself, that’s okay. But if your morality demands that you do the right thing, then you may want to consider using the “snitch” line.
The CRA tip line is completely anonymous, but that doesn’t mean it’s for ranting and allegations. If you want to send them a tip, make sure you have the right facts and enough information for CRA to take action; your opinions of an individual don’t count as facts.
Many people have a very narrow view of financial stability. They think having a substantial income source is financial stability. But the sad truth is, many such people practically see their lives crumbling around them if they lose that source of income. Instead, we should focus on a better version of financial stability, where you have safety nets and alternative income sources in place to sustain you, even if the primary income source is stopped.
For a safety net, one very safe stock is Fortis (TSX:FTS)(NYSE:FTS). It’s not a flashy stock, but it is very credible. Fortis seems dependable in both dividend and capital growth aspects. Its dividend-growth streak is the second longest in the country (46 consecutive years). As for the capital growth of your investment, the company offers a steady 10-year CAGR of over 10%.
There are various reasons why Fortis is considered a rock-solid investment. First is the sphere it operates in (i.e., utilities), something that is likely to stay relevant. Second, most of the company’s earnings are tied to dependable payments. And third is a strong balance sheet. The company will likely keep rewarding its investors in its own steady and consistent pace.
Mistakenly applying for CERB and getting the payment even if you aren’t eligible isn’t that big an issue if you send the payment back. It’s also important to iron out the details around “deserving” a CERB payment, and being “eligible” for a CERB payment. Many of the people, who have gotten the $2,000 paycheque may not deserve it, but that’s the morality of the situation. If they are legally eligible for it, you may not want to “snitch” on them.
Speaking of the CRA snitch line...
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Fool contributor Adam Othman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.