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
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
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
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
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