What is the Ontario Trillium Benefit?

The Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB) is a refundable tax credit that supports low-income families. It combines the following tax credits into one payment:

Who is eligible for the OTB?

To qualify for the OTB, you need to be eligible for at least one of the three credits. 

1. Northern Ontario Energy Credit (NOEC)

The NOEC credit helps low- to moderate-income residents with higher energy costs in Northern Ontario. To get the NOEC, your main residence has to be located in Northern Ontario.

You must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • have or previously had a spouse or common-law partner
  • a parent who lives or previously lived with your child

In addition, you need to have met at least one of the following conditions in the previous year:

  • You paid rent or property tax for your main residence
  • You lived on a reserve in Northern Ontario and paid for your home energy costs (i.e. electricity, heat)
  • You lived in a long-term care home in Northern Ontario and paid for a portion of your accommodation

2. Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit (OEPTC)

Meant for low- to moderate-income residents, the OEPTC is a tax-free payment that covers property taxes and sales tax on energy costs. It has the same eligibility requirements as the NOEC, except it applies to everyone residing in Ontario. Individuals who have lived in a designated university, college, or private school residence in Ontario during the last year may also qualify.

3. Ontario Sales Tax Credit (OSTC)

The OSTC is a tax-free payment that provides sales tax relief to low- to moderate-income residents. 

To get this credit, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • 19 years of age or older
  • have or previously had a spouse or common-law partner
  • a parent who lives or previously lived with your child

How much can you get from the OTB?

Add up the amounts you would get for the NOEC, OEPTC, and OSTC and that’s how much you’ll receive from the OTB. You can also use the Child and Family Benefits Calculator or Ontario’s Tax Credit Calculator to get an estimate of your entitlement. Keep in mind your amount will depend on factors such as age, income, residence, family size, and amount of rent or property tax paid.

To give you an idea of how much you could receive, here are the maximum credit amounts for the 2020 benefit year (July 2020 to June 2021):

Northern Ontario Energy Credit 

  • $157 for individuals 
  • $241 for families

Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit

  • $1,085 for residents aged between 18 and 64
  • $1,235 for seniors over age 65 
  • $241 for residents living on a reserve or in a care home
  • $25 for students living in a designated university, college, or private school residence

Ontario Sales Tax Credit 

  • $313 for each adult and each child in a family

Based on these amounts, you could be entitled to a maximum of $1,555 for the 2020 benefit year if you’re a single, middle-aged individual who is eligible for all three programs. 

What is the minimum you can get from the OTB?

The minimum you can get is $10. Your benefit will be bumped to $10 if your amount falls between $2.01 and $10. You won’t receive a payment if your OTB amount is $2 or less.

When is the OTB paid?

Your annual OTB entitlement is based on your previous year’s income tax and benefit return. It’s usually split into 12 payments and issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on the 10th day of each month. Payments are sent by direct deposit or cheque.

Can I choose to get my OTB in one payment instead of monthly?

Yes, you can. If your annual OTB benefit is over $360, you can choose between monthly payments or one payment at the end of the benefit year. The total amount is the same regardless of which option you select. If you pick the lump-sum option and change your mind later in the year, you can switch back to monthly payments by calling or writing a letter to your tax centre. Once your request is processed, you’ll be paid the full amount you’re owed up to that date. Afterwards, you’ll get monthly payments for the rest of the benefit year.

If you’re entitled to less than $360, you’ll get a single payment at the start of the benefit year.

How do I apply for the OTB?

You need to submit your income tax and benefit return to be considered for the OTB. Part of filing your return involves filling out this application form for the NOEC and OEPTC. You don’t need to apply for the OSTC as the CRA will use the information from your tax return to determine eligibility.

To keep receiving the benefit, you must file a tax return every year regardless of whether you have income to report or not. It’s also wise to file your taxes on time to prevent your payments from getting delayed.

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