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Yes, this can be a little tricky. Basically, the drive-away companies want

to have a car to drive both ways so that they do not have to pay for airfare to

get their driver back. This is tough to do from Eastern Canada and costs are

generally pretty high. They dodge and weave a bit hoping to get that return trip

somehow, and that contributes to the murky feeling. “We may be able to…” or

“We can possibly schedule you for...” are normally part of the conversation. I

have found that a family friend works best, as long as he or she is over 25 years

old. There is some risk to your car on the drive down, but it does not amount

to much. Priests and ministers also do a lot of driving for these companies,

so you might want to see if one of your acquaintances would like a free trip to

Florida. Offer to pay for the gas and one or two night’s accommodation with a

plane ticket back.

Dear Bird Talk,

I keep track of my days in the U.S. and submit my Form 8840 regularly.

But recently, I amhearing that unless I am out of the U.S. for more than

30 days, those days also need to be considered as U.S. days. My time in

the U.S. is usually spread over seven or eight trips throughout the year

and occasionally, I am back in Canada for fewer than 30 days between

trips. How do you recommend I proceed to count days.

Tom Douglas, Alberta


The 30-day rule is correct, not that we like it, and that is what you should

file. I would try to structure your trips to be back for 31 days, to be safe.

Dear Bird Talk,

We typically spend four to five months in the U.S. in the winter. Next

year, in the summer, we are planning a 32-day cruise that originates

in Alaska, goes through the Northwest Passage and ends in New York,

following stops in Newport and Boston. As we won’t have been out

of the U.S. for 30 days, will all of the days count as being in the U.S.

for B2 purposes?

Peter Kilgour, Toronto, ON


The simple answer is always “yes.” This sounds like the trip of a lifetime,

so a little restructuring of your normal winter patterns should be worth it. I hope

that you appreciate the irony of a snowbird – who normally seeks the sun in

winter – seeking the winter in summer.

Dear Bird Talk,

We arrived in the U.S. on October 22 and will be heading back to

Canada mid-December for Christmas, returning in January. At a CSA

presentation, we were told that we must be home for at least 30 days

before returning to the U.S. Otherwise, those days count as days in

U.S. None of our friends pay any attention to this rule when counting

their days in the U.S. We are the only ones we knowwho are concerned

enough to stay for a full 30 days in Canada before returning south for

the winter months. Is this “30-day rule” being enforced? If we only

stayed for two weeks, for example, could those days back in Canada

be counted towards our 182? I can find almost nothing on this in all

of my searches, so would be grateful for any clarification.

Doug MacLachlan, Alberta


We have a letter to INS border agents from the Immigration Head Office

which says that an absence of fewer than 30 days is not considered an absence.

We all know that friends can get you into trouble, too. Perhaps you should tell

them about the B.C. snowbird who was charged $350,000 in back taxes by

the IRS. He was “deemed” to be a resident of the United States.

Dear Bird Talk,

In your winter 2014, Issue 93, you advised Linda Johnson of Vancouver

B.C. that the sale of her current home “would be subject to capital gains

tax on the difference between the sale price and the purchase price you

paid, less improvements. Ten per cent of the sale price is required to be

sent to the IRS and you each have to file a U.S. tax return.”

Capital gains I can understand, but the requirement to send 10% of

the sale price to the IRS confuses me. What is this tax for and, if it is

a requirement, what form would be used to report it?

My wife and I purchased a manufactured home in Florida last year.

We pay for land rental in a park. When we transferred the home to

our names, we paid seven per cent tax to the State of Florida and, each

year, we pay to renew the tag. An additional 10 per cent tax (total of

17 per cent) would make this a very expensive transaction when the

time comes to sell in the future.

I believe that a manufactured home is classified as personal property, not

real property. Does the capital gains tax apply to manufactured homes?

D. Wilson, Fonthill, ON


Capital gains tax applies to any asset that you sell for a profit, including

manufactured homes. You deduct the purchase price and any bills which you

have for improvements and the balance is what is taxed. Make sure that you

save every bill related to your home, forever. The 10% tax you speak of is what

is called a withholding tax. This is almost always fully refundable when you file

your taxes.

Dear Bird Talk,

The statements made in the Government Relations report of Issue 93



are misleading. I quote the following from the Saint Lucie

County Property Appraisers’ website:

“Amendment 10 (Save Our Homes): Effective January 1, 1995,

Amendment 10 to the Florida Constitution limits any annual increase in

the assessed value of residential property with a homestead exemption

to 3% or the amount of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.

When the property is sold, the new owner will be assessed at the current

fair market value. Assessment limits will apply beginning the year after

the property has received a new homestead exemption. Exemptions

Persons who have legal or equitable title to real property in the state

of Florida, occupy it, and make it their permanent residence as of

January 1 are eligible for a homestead exemption. There are additional

exemptions available based on eligibility such as an un-remarried widow

or a person with a disability. See the exemptions page for details on

these exemptions.”

A 10% annual limit for Canadian homeowners is a slap in the face

when the locals are limited to only 3%. Furthermore, if you have

to get a Florida driver’s licence, Gov. Scott (FLDMV) requires that

Canadians pay $55 annually for that privilege, whereas the locals

pay the same amount for a six-year period. EEOC would label these

actions discriminatory.

Michael Quinn, Niagara Falls, ON


This is all true and there is nothing we can do about it – we have tried. It

is not only Canadians who are selected for this extra cost, but also Americans

who are resident in a different state and everyone else from other countries,

as well. We don’t vote in Florida and are an easy tax target.

Featuring the letters & concerns of our members


Bird Talk, c/o CSANews

180 Lesmill Road

Toronto, Ontario M3B 2T5

or by e-mail:

Bird Talk