5.7 Gifts and voluntary payments
Section 7(3) of the Act.
Sections 54(1)8 and 54(1)11.1 and 11.4 of Regulation 134/98.
Random file reviews are completed to ensure that:
- all reported income has been verified
- all financial documents have been visually verified
- all visually verified documents have been documented in the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS) or any other file system used by a First Nations delivery agent
Application of policy
Applicants or recipients may receive financial help in the form of gifts and voluntary payments from relatives, friends or other sources.
Gifts and voluntary payments are exempt as income up to a maximum of $10,000 over a 12-month period per member of the benefit unit.
In addition to the $10,000 exemption, gifts and voluntary payments used for the following purposes are exempt as income:
- the purchase of a primary residence
- the purchase of an exempt motor vehicle
- to pay first and last month’s rent to secure accommodations for the benefit unit
These payments are also exempt as assets, provided they are used as soon as practicable (i.e., 12 months for a principal residence and 6 months for a motor vehicle or rent). The Administrator has discretion to allow for a longer expenditure duration for these payments, if circumstances permit.
If a gift for an exempted purpose is not used for that purpose, or not used within the allowable asset exemption time limits, the gift is considered income in the month it was received and an asset in the following months. However, this policy only applies to the portion of the gift that is above the regular gift exemption limit (i.e., $10,000 in a 12-month period per member of the benefit unit).
Cash gifts and payments should not be provided by a person who has a legal obligation to support the recipient and/or his/her dependents, unless the gift or payment is intended for a special occasion (e.g., a birthday or holiday) or if the payment is in addition to the legal obligation to support. Gifts or voluntary payments are not to be given in lieu of spousal support.
Accrued interest and dividends up to a total of $30 per year are considered to be a payment of small value, and are exempt as income (see Directive 5.8: Interest and dividends for more information).
Cash payments of small or large value that are received by an applicant or recipient and contributed to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) or a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) are exempt as income.
Casual gifts of insignificant value, e.g., basic clothing and meals are also exempt.