The Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB) is a refundable tax credit available to low- and moderate-income residents. It combines the Ontario Sales Tax Credit, Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, and Northern Ontario Energy Credit into one single payment that is issued monthly or once a year.
OTB payments are funded by the Ontario government and disbursed through the Canada Revenue Agency.
Ontario Trillium Benefit
The Ontario Trillium Benefit is a combination of three benefits that help Ontarians with low- to moderate-income pay for sales and property taxes and energy costs.
You can receive the OTB as long as you qualify for at least one of the following credits:
- Ontario Sales Tax Credit
- Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit
- Northern Ontario Energy Credit
The eligibility requirements vary for each credit and they are discussed in more detail below.
Ontario Sales Tax Credit
The Ontario sales tax credit is similar to the federal GST/HST credit and is aimed at offsetting the sales tax paid on the purchase of goods and services.
To be eligible, you must be a resident of Ontario and either:
- 19 years of age or older
- Married, in a common-law relationship, or divorced
- Be a parent who lives or have previously lived with your child
You do not need to apply for the Ontario Sales Tax Credit as it is based on your previous income tax return and CRA automatically assesses whether or not you are eligible and will notify you accordingly.
Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit
This credit helps low- to moderate-income Ontarians offset property tax payments and the sales tax paid on energy.
To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age or older and have lived in Ontario on December 31 of the previous year. Also, you must have either:
- Paid property tax or rent for your main residence, or
- Paid accommodation costs for living in a nursing home, or
- Paid energy costs while living on a reserve, or
- Lived in a designated university, college, or in private school residence in the previous year
Northern Ontario Energy Credit
The Northern Ontario Energy Credit provides a tax-free benefit to low- and moderate-income residents of Northern Ontario to help offset the higher cost of energy in the North.
To be eligible, you must have either:
- Paid property tax or rent for your main residence
- Paid accommodation costs for living in a nursing home
- Paid energy costs while living on a reserve
How To Apply for the Ontario Trillium Benefit
Generally, you need to file your tax return for the previous year in order to be considered for the OTB.
For example, to receive the OTB in 2020, you must have filed your income tax return for 2019, even if you do not have any income to report.
There is no separate application for the Ontario Sales Tax Credit (OSTC). CRA uses information for your tax return to determine your eligibility.
For the Northern Ontario Energy Credit (NOEC) and Ontario Energy Property Tax Credit (OEPTC), you must complete Form ON-BEN (Application for the Ontario Trillium Benefit and the Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit) along with your previous years’ tax return.
You must apply for trillium benefit every year at tax time.
To be eligible for the NOEC and OEPTC for any particular year, you must meet the eligibility requirements on the first day of that payment month.
For example, if you moved out of Northern Ontario on February 1, you will be eligible to receive the credit for January and February, but not for the rest of the year.
How Much OTB Benefits Can You Expect?
You can apply to receive OTB payments if you qualify for at least one of the credits. The amount you receive will depend on your family’s net income from the previous tax year, your age, marital status, family size, property taxes, and accommodation costs, etc.
The benefit payment period runs from July to June and for 2020, it is July 2020 to June 2021.
Payments are issued by the Canada Revenue Agency and are typically paid via direct deposit. You can enter your bank details for direct deposit using the CRA MyAccount service.
If you don’t have a direct deposit set up, a cheque will be mailed to the address you have on file.
Ontario Sales Tax Credit (OSTC) Amount
The maximum OSTC amount per adult and child is $313.
The amount you receive is reduced by 4% of your adjusted household net income over $24,115 (for singles with no children) or over $30,143 (for parents).
Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit (OEPTC) Amount
The maximum OEPTC amount is:
- $1,085 for individuals between 18 and 64 years old. This is made up of $241 for energy costs and $844 for property taxes
- $1,236 for seniors (65 years and older). This is made up of $241 for energy costs and $995 for property taxes
- $241 for individuals living on a reserve or nursing home
- $25 for students living in a designated college, university or private school residence
Northern Ontario Energy Credit (NOEC) Amount
The maximum NOEC in 2020 is $157 for single individuals with no children and $241 for families.
The credit amount is reduced by 1% of your adjusted net income exceeding $42,201 for singles or $54,258 for families.
You can get an estimate of your OTB using the fed’s child and family benefits calculator.
For the OEPTC, you can also use these 2020 OEPTC calculation sheets.
For the NOEC, you can use these 2020 NOEC calculation sheets.
Ontario Trillium Benefit Payment Dates 2020
The Ontario Trillium Benefit is usually paid out on the 10th of each month starting from July of the previous year. OTB 2020 payment dates are:
- January 10, 2020
- February 10, 2020
- March 10, 2020
- April 9, 2020
- May 8, 2020
- June 10, 2020
- July 10, 2020
- August 10, 2020
- September 10, 2020
- October 9, 2020
- November 10, 2020
- December 10, 2020
If your annual OTB benefit is $360 or less, it will be paid in one lump-sum payment in July 2020.
If your annual OTB benefit is more than $360, you can choose to have your benefit paid out in one single payment at the end of the benefit year i.e. July 2021.
If your OTB benefit amount is $2 or less, you do not receive a payment.
Lastly, if your trillium benefit is more than $2, but less than $10, it is increased to $10.
For questions relating to the OTB program, call 1-866-668-8297.
Is the OTB Taxable?
No, the Ontario Trillium Benefit is a tax-free payment and is not included in your taxable income.
If you owe the CRA unpaid taxes or overpayments from other benefits, your OTB may be used to pay off your debt. If there’s an excess amount after, it will be sent to you.
Other Benefits For Ontario Residents
Ontario Child Benefit
Residents of Ontario may be eligible for the Ontario Child Benefit in addition to the standard Canada Child Benefit (CCB).
The Ontario Child Benefit is combined with the CCB into one single monthly payment that is administered by the CRA. It provides up to a maximum of $1,434 per child per year or $119.50 per child per month.
Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) payments fall on the same dates as the CCB. For 2020, it is:
- January 20, 2020
- February 20, 2020
- March 20, 2020
- April 20, 2020
- May 20, 2020
- June 19, 2020
- July 20, 2020
- August 20, 2020
- September 18, 2020
- October 20, 2020
- November 20, 2020
- December 11, 2020
CRA automatically assesses whether you are eligible for the OCB when you file your income tax return.
Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)
Low-income seniors in Ontario may qualify for the GAINS benefit, a monthly non-taxable benefit.
GAINS payments range from $2.50 to $83 per month depending on your income. You may be eligible for GAINS payments if you:
- Are 65 years of age or older
- Are getting Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement payments
- Have been a resident of Ontario for the past 12 months or have lived in Ontario for a total of 20 years since you were 18 years old
- Have been a Canadian resident for 10 or more years
- You earn a limited income
For 2020, your annual private income can be up to $1,992 if you are single, widowed or divorced, or up to $3,984 for a couple.
GAINS eligibility is automatically assessed if you are a recipient of OAS and GIS.
Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit
The Ontario senior homeowners’ property tax credit (OSHPTG) helps low- to moderate-income seniors with offsetting the cost of their property taxes. The maximum grant is $500 each year.
To qualify for the maximum amount in 2020, your adjusted family net income for the 2019 tax year has to be $35,000 or less (singles) or $45,000 or less (couples).
A 3.33% reduction applies to income between $35,000 and $50,000 for single individuals and between $45,000 and $60,000 for couples.
To apply, file your income tax return and complete the ON-BEN form.
The OSHPTG payment is issued 4-8 weeks after you receive your notice of assessment from the CRA.
Trillium Drug Program
Ontario’s Trillium Drug Program (TDP) caters to residents of the province who spend approximately 4% or more of their after-tax household income on prescription drugs. TDP covers the cost of 4,400 prescription drugs.
To be eligible for the trillium drug program, you should:
- Live in Ontario and have a valid Ontario health card
- Not have a private insurance plan that covers 100% of your drug costs
- Spend 4% or more of your net income on paying for prescription drugs
- Not be eligible for drug cost coverage under the Ontario Drug benefit program
TDP kicks in after you spend about 4% of your household income to purchase prescriptions. This amount is your deductible and is split into four parts or quarterly amounts.
After you have exceeded your deductible in any quarter, you only have to pay $2 for eligible prescriptions that are filled for the rest of that quarter.
The Trillium Drug Program quarters are:
- 1st quarter: August to October
- 2nd quarter: November to January
- 3rd quarter: February to April
- 4th quarter: May to July
When your deductible is not used up in a quarter, the unpaid portion is added to your deductible total for the next quarter.
Apply for the TDP by September 30 using the application forms here or by calling 1-800-575-5386 (toll-free) or 416-642-3038 (Toronto).
After you have been accepted into the program, your household’s enrollment is automatically renewed every year.