Children's special allowances (CSA) fact sheet
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers the Children's special allowances Act (CSA Act). The following information is for government departments, provincial and territorial agencies and other organizations or individuals who receive child special allowances (CSA) payments or who otherwise deal with or are subject to the CSA Act. The information explains some of the legislative and administrative requirements to help ensure timely and accurate payments of the CSA.
1. The CSA is a tax-free monthly payment for a child who:
- is under the age of 18;
- physically resides in Canada; and
- is maintained by an agency.
Even though a child may still be in school after attaining age 18, entitlement to CSA ceases.
2. By "agency", the CRA means:
- a federal, provincial or territorial government department, an agency appointed by a province or territory to administer a provincial or territorial law for the protection and care of children, a group foster home or institution; or
- an institution licensed or otherwise approved by a province or territory to have the custody and care of children.
3. By "maintained by an agency", we mean that the child is dependent on the agency for care, maintenance, education, training and advancement to a greater extent than on any other agency.
A child is considered to be "maintained by an agency" if that agency continues to financially support a child who has been placed in the permanent or temporary custody of a guardian, tutor (in Québec) or other individual who has been conferred all rights, duties and responsibilities of a parent pursuant to a decree, order or judgment of a competent tribunal.
4. Unless the CRA has already assigned a Business Number (BN) to an agency specifically for CSA purposes, the agency has to request one.
The 15-digit BN is a means for the CRA to identify our business recipients and their different accounts with the CRA. The first nine digits identify the recipient and the last six (2 alpha/4 numeric) identify their accounts, e.g. goods and services tax account, income tax account, payroll deductions account. The alpha digits assigned to CSA accounts are "RA".
A request for a CSA-BN can be mailed to the tax centre that serves your area, or dropped off at the nearest tax services office. Unless the agency is a government department or agency, the agency has to include a copy of its license or authorization regarding the protection, custody and care of children.
If approved as a CSA registrant, the CRA will provide the agency with a notice of its BN and an information sheet.
5. An agency is required to send the CRA Form RC64, Children's Special Allowances, for each child for whom they wish to receive the CSA and for each child for whom the CSA should be cancelled. Care should be taken to provide complete information as much of it is required by legislation. When information is missing, the CRA has to return the form to the agency to have it completed, and this result in delays in processing. (Note the limit on retroactive payments in item 9.)
6. An agency can request that CSA payments be made directly to a foster parent of the child on the children's special allowances form. If the child is later moved to another foster family, the agency has to submit a new form to redirect the CSA payments to the new foster parent or to the agency.
7. If more than one party qualifies as an agency in respect of a child, it is up to the parties to decide on which one should apply for CSA. For example, if a provincial government department licenses and funds a private agency to care for children, the parties would likely decide that the provincial government department is the appropriate party to apply.
8. CSA payments are to be used exclusively for the maintenance of the child to whom they apply.
9. The first CSA payment is made for the month after the child starts to be maintained by the agency. When the filing of an application is delayed, retroactive payments to the agency are possible, but only to a maximum of 11 months prior to the month an application is received containing all the required information.
Notwithstanding the above, in situations where the child is cared for by a court-ordered, financially-assisted guardian, tutor (in Québec) or is in a similar custody arrangement, applicants are reminded that the special allowance will be payable starting with the earliest of the month following:
- the month the proposed amendments to the CSA Act come into force; and
- the month the child is ordered into a subsidized guardianship or tutorship or similar custody arrangement.
In the case where an agency instructs the CRA to pay the foster parents directly, direct monthly payments can be made only for periods that follow the month in which the CRA finishes processing the children's special allowances form. Payments for earlier months are made to the agency. Therefore, no retroactive payments can be made to a foster parent.
10. The last CSA payment is made for the month in which the child turns 18 years of age or ceases to be maintained by the agency. A child is no longer considered to be maintained by the agency if, for example, the child starts to be maintained by a new agency, returns to live with a parent, is adopted, is missing, has died, is kidnapped, or no longer resides in Canada. If a child is ordered into the custody of a financially-assisted guardian, tutor (in Québec) or another individual with similar rights and obligations with respect to the child, that child is still considered to be "maintained by an agency" and CSA payments will generally continue. For more information, see Form RC64, Children's Special Allowances.
11. Generally, CSA payments are made on the 20th day of each month. The monthly amount for the payment period from July 2021 to June 2022 for a child under the age of six is $569.41 and for a child of age six to seventeen is $480.41. For qualified children, the monthly CSA payment may also include the child disability benefit (CDB). A payment may be issued by cheque or direct deposit. An agency can have the CSA payments deposited directly into an account at a financial institution. To start direct deposit or change the banking information send the CRA a completed Form RC113, Direct Deposit Request for Children's Special Allowances (CSA).
12. Payments of the Canada child benefit (CCB), the CDB, and/or the child component of the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit for a child automatically cease on receipt of an application for CSA for the child. Therefore, the agency should apply for or cancel CSA on a timely basis after the child starts or ceases to be maintained by the agency. In addition to creating administrative problems, failure to do so could cause financial hardship to the CCB recipient as a result of:
- the CRA having to recoup benefit payments made prior to receiving the application (due to the stress of the situation, the CCB recipient may have overlooked the requirement to notify the CRA that the child no longer resides with them); or
- a delay in the resumption of benefit payments after a child returns to live with the CCB eligible individual.
To help ensure timely and accurate payments of the CSA, the agency should apply for or cancel CSA on a timely basis after the child starts or ceases to be maintained by the agency.
Copies of the Children's Special Allowances Act and Regulations are available at:
If you have any questions about the CSA, please call our children’s special allowances enquiries line at 1-833-378-8272 or go to canada.ca/cra-csa.
You can also send a letter to the appropriate address from the tax centres list.
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