This year, Snowbirds must be prudent about tracking how many days they stay in the United States. Rules already in place limit the amount of days you can spend in the US before you become subject to US tax laws. June 30, 2014 marks the date in which the US and Canada will be working together to strictly monitor the number of days a person spends outside of Canada, or inside the US. If the allowed number of 183 days is exceeded, people could face some serious penalties.
The changes are part of the Entry-Exit Initiative and the Perimeter Security and Competitiveness Action Plan, a cooperative plan between Canada and the US that was announced in February 2011.
Travellers will be tracked in both directions across the Canada/US border. Both countries will share the information in real-time. Previously, travellers were allowed to self-report changes in residency, and were only tracked when entering a country.
Here is a summary of some of the consequences of being outside Canada, or in the US, for too long.
1. US Travel Bans - If found to be unlawfully present in the US between 183 and 365 days, you could face a 3-year travel ban. If found to be unlawfully present in the US more than 365 days, you could face a 10 year travel ban.
2. Liability for U.S. income tax on world wide income - If present inside the US for too long, you could become subject to US tax laws, and be taxed on your worldwide income.
3. Liability of U.S. estate tax on fair market value of world wide assets - Once subject to US tax laws, a person who dies in the US would have their estate taxed based on the value of their worldwide assets.
4. Liability of Canadian departure tax - A Canadian who is no longer a resident may be subject to a Canadian departure tax. This means once you lose your Canadian resident status, you would be deemed to have disposed of your assets, and pay tax on the gains.
5. Loss of provincial healthcare coverage - Once a Canadian is no longer a resident of a particular province, they lose the right to provincial healthcare coverage. The rules governing residency are different than those covered by previously mentioned tax laws. Consult your provincial healthcare body for specific rules and exceptions.
For more details check out this article about keeping track of days spent in the US by clicking here. We also recommend consulting a tax specialist for guidance as we are not experts on such matters ourselves. We want our clients to be aware of such matters, even if we can't give specific advice.