Is GIS Taxable? What You Need To Know

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by Enoch Omololu

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The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a monthly benefit paid to recipients of the Old Age Security (OAS) pension whose income fall below specific thresholds.

Is the GIS taxable income? Read on to learn about GIS eligibility, amounts, tax-free status, and how to avoid GIS clawback.

What is GIS?

The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a monthly add-on to the OAS pension, the second pillar of retirement income in Canada.

To be eligible for it, seniors have to be 65 years of age or older, live in Canada, and qualify for the OAS pension.

In addition, GIS is an income-tested benefit and beneficiaries must have a low income based on numbers published every quarter in January, April, July, and October.

Is GIS Taxable?

Unlike the OAS and CPP, GIS benefits are not taxable (i.e. tax-free).

That said, you should file an income tax return every year and include GIS payments.

Your tax return is used to determine your eligibility for government benefits each year.

GIS Amounts for 2021

How much money can you get from GIS?

In 2021, you could receive $935.72 per month if you are a single, widowed, or divorced senior with an annual income less than $18,984.

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, the maximum monthly payments vary as follows:

ScenariosMaximum GIS/MonthYour Annual Income + Spouse/Partner
Spouse/partner receives full OAS pension$563.27Less than $25,104
Spouse/partner does not receive OAS pension$935.72Less than $45,504
Spouse/partner receives the Allowance$563.27Less than $45,504

Two other benefits available as part of GIS are:

  • Allowance
  • Allowance for the Survivor

The Allowance is paid to the spouse or common-law partner of a GIS recipient if they meet the eligibility criteria (i.e. age 60-64, Canadian resident, and low-income).

The maximum Allowance amount in 2021 is $1,189.76 (if the maximum income of the couple is less than $35,136)

The Allowance for the Survivor benefit is paid to eligible seniors between age 60 and 64 who have a low income and have lost their spouse or common-law partner.

The maximum Allowance for the Survivor amount is $1,418.25 (annual income less than $25,560).

Both the Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor benefits are non-taxable.

Note that the numbers above reflect the amounts being paid in the July-September 2021 quarter.

How To Apply For GIS

If you are not automatically enrolled for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, you may have to apply.

The two options are:

  1. Apply online through your My Service Canada Account.
  2. Apply using a paper application and mail or bring it to a Service Canada office.

The application forms are ISP-3550 (for both OAS and GIS) or ISP-3025 (for GIS only).

You can also contact Service Canada by phone at 1-800-277-9914 or 1-800-255-4786 (TTY).

How To Minimize GIS Clawback

As your income increases, the GIS benefit you qualify for decreases until it reaches zero.

The Feds recently made it easier to keep more of the GIS by raising the amount of employment or self-employment income you can earn before GIS is reduced (now $5,000/previously $3,500).

You can also lower the taxable income that counts towards GIS eligibility by investing in a TFSA.

Funds withdrawn from a TFSA account are tax-free and do not affect your eligibility for benefits.

Related

Have questions about the GIS? Leave them in the comments.

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Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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