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Dear Bird Talk,
Your editorial,
CSANews
, page three, spring
2013, stated that “The United States still limits
your visits to six months in any 12-month
period.”
Perhaps you can clarify this issue for me and
for your readers because it is my understand-
ing, according to the IRS tax code, that any
“alien” person exceeding a four-month stay in
the U.S. in any 12-month period is subject to
filing U.S. income tax returns.
The U.S. has extremely heavy penalties, in
some cases up to $10,000, for each infrac-
tion of their tax code.
During February 2012, some articles were pub-
lished in Florida news editions (both French
and English) which are by, for, and on behalf
of Canadian snowbirds warning Canadians of
the dangers of these income tax provisions.  
I researched U.S. tax information which I could
find on the Internet and came to the same
conclusion regarding the four-month limita-
tion. Many Canadian snowbirds I talk to be-
lieve that they are allowed six months.
If my information is correct, it may be helpful
to clarify the six-month period advised by you.
If my information is wrong, clarification would
be equally helpful to all of those people who
may be following the four-month advice.
Harold Johnson
Ed: Always confusing, at best, because there
are many government departments and they
all have their own sets of rules, many of which
overlap and are contradictory. Let me start at
the border. Any U.S. border guard has enormous,
non-appealable power. He or she, solely, decides
for how long you will be allowed to stay in the
United States, period. They may allow one day,
two months, or perhaps even six months…so be
nice to them. They are, however, given guidelines
and rules to apply. The primary immigration
rule on length of stay is that no one can visit for
longer than six months in any 12-month period.
Longer visits would require a special visa, which
is very rarely granted to snowbirds. International
students and special work permits would be typi-
cal examples of people qualifying for this special
visa.
The tax department wants your money; their
rules say that if you are in the U.S. for longer
than four months, you are required to pay taxes
in the U.S. And, as you indicated, there are large
penalties that can be levied. However, they do
provide a way to avoid this taxation if you stay
for longer than four months. You must prove that
you are really a resident of another country by
filing a Closer Connection Exception Statement
for Aliens. It is commonly known as Form 8840.
If you file this form, you will be able to stay for up
to six months (in any 12-month period) without
having to worry about U.S. taxation.
Dear Bird Talk,
In February, while in Florida, my husband
had to see a doctor. We opened a file with
Medipac.  At the doctor’s office, we said that
we had insurance coverage and gave them
the details. When we found out that my hus-
band did not need any further investigation,
we knew that it was less than our deductible
so we offered to pay cash right then. They
said no, it was going to the insurance. We
left. When we saw the bill, it was higher than
the quote which the receptionist gave us to
start with (no proof of that, of course).
When I tried to negotiate with the bill issuer –
who was in Chattanooga, TN – they informed
me that because it went to the insurance, they
would not negotiate with us even though the
insurance was not going to pay.
If there is a next time, we will take money with
us and not give the office our insurance info
until we know for sure if the billing is higher
than our deductible.
We were happy to have insurance coverage
and Medipac was easy to work with. We paid
the bill, submitted it to our provincial medical
insurance and got some of our money back. 
All was not lost. Just thought that you might
like this bit of info.
Patricia Thibault
New Minas, NS
Ed: We certainly believe you! At Medipac, we
have to deal with this kind of situation many
times a day. It is a “shell game,” in my opinion,
and it’s a very common practice in the United
States. The intention is to defraud an insurance
company, but no one seems to look at it that
way. You will notice that the “bill collector” is in
Tennessee and this is very common, too. Some
doctors and hospitals will send all of their “inter-
national” bills directly to collection agencies –
some operated by lawyers – to scare you. A total
waste of 20%+ of the bill is in collection charges,
especially when dealing with Medipac.
It is always a good idea to call your insurance
company first, however, as there can be reduced
benefits for not calling. As a matter of interest,
Medipac would have submitted your bills to your
provincial government and we can often get the
reimbursement a little faster.
Dear Bird Talk,
I am a lung transplant recipient and travel to
Florida for the winter. One of the anti-rejection
meds that I need to take daily is Cellcept, for
which I can only get a three-month supply for
travel. OHIP will not allow a six-month supply.
Can you help with this?
Wayne Hayes
Barry’s Bay, ON
Ed: This is quite probably a problemwith your
pharmacist not being aware of the Ontario law
that allows a 200-day supply of drugs (it really
should be 212 days and CSA is working on that).
I would have your doctor write a subscription for
the total necessary days, as well as giving you a
letter stating that you require it for medical pur-
poses, which of course, you do. If your pharma-
cist still says “no,” then find a new pharmacist. If
you actually have a letter fromOHIP stating that
you are not permitted to have more than a three-
month supply, please send it to us to get rectified.
Dear Bird Talk,
My wife and I spend the winters in Zephyrhills,
FL. I take ASA pills as a blood thinner and I ran
out this year while we were there. We tried to
buy more at theWal-Mart, but could not find
them. There were lots of products marked
aspirin but, in this area, they all contained
NSAIDs. We could not find any product that
contained ASA. NSAID’s are not a blood thin-
ner, which was confirmed by my home phar-
macist. In the U.S., the trade name Aspirin is
not held by Bayer and anything can be called
aspirin. I think that there are a lot of people
taking this medication believing that they are
taking a blood thinner, but they are not. I have
American friends who believe that I am wrong
but, in talking with my home pharmacist, he
agrees with me. The snowbirds should look
very closely at what they are using in the U.S.
Don Dawe
Bracebridge, ON
Ed: This is a bit of unsettling information. All
snowbirds take note – including me. There are
many differences in drugs between various coun-
tries and the only way to be totally safe is to take
your own drugs with you, from Canada…in their
original containers.
Dear Bird Talk,
This has been our second winter down in
Florida, with hopefully many more to follow.
We downloaded form 8840 with the intention
of sending it in to the IRS. The form references
a “due date,” but does not define it. I contacted
the IRS and they indicated that the due date is
Bird
talk