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Government Relations

Report

Jim Sherb

First Vice-President

A

n increasing number of CSAmembers have alerted

the association to letters which they have received

from their Canadian financial institutions requir-

ing them to confirm their status for U.S. tax purposes.

These letters request the client to complete and submit

IRS FormW-8BEN (or Form SCI-W8 in some instances)

if they are NOT a U.S. person (e.g. dual citizen of Canada

and the United States).

Many snowbirds who have opened bank accounts in the

United States may already be familiar with IRS Form

W-8BEN, as this U.S. official form is often completed by

foreign account holders to certify their non-U.S. status.

The reason that Canadian banks are now requesting this

documentation is due to the Foreign Account Tax Com-

pliance Act (FATCA) – U.S. legislation aimed at targeting

U.S. persons who are evading taxation through the use

of overseas financial accounts. Under FATCA, Canadian

financial institutions are required to identify and report

certain accounts of U.S. persons to the Canada Revenue

Agency which will, in turn, share this information with

the Internal Revenue Service. Therefore, if your Canadian

bank suspects that you may be a U.S. person, you could

receive a similar letter requesting additional documen-

tation to confirm your status.

It is recommended that members who receive such a

letter complete the appropriate form and forward it to

their financial institution. IRS FormW-8BEN is kept on

file for a three-year period.

As we mentioned in issue 92 of

CSANews

(Snowbird

Alert), FATCA is yet another reason to file Form 8840.

As most CSAmembers already know, any snowbird who

typically spends more than four months in the U.S. each

calendar year could meet the substantial presence test

of the IRS and would, therefore, be deemed a resident

alien for U.S. tax purposes. In order to be treated as a

non-resident alien, based on closer residential ties to

Canada, these individuals need to file IRS Form 8840

annually, in a timely fashion.

As you may have already read in the president’s message,

CSA staff will soon be releasing our Federal Election

Handbook in preparation for the federal election on

October 19, 2015. In addition, we will be sending letters

to the party leaders asking them to clarify their positions

on issues of importance to Canadian travellers.

Although day-to-day provision of the majority of our

health services remain the responsibility of our provincial

and territorial officials, the federal government still has a

significant role to play. Almost none of the provinces are

meeting their funding obligations under the portability

principle of the Canada Health Act. In these cases, we rely

on the federal government to take action and enforce the

act; after all, it is a piece of federal legislation.

The federal government needs to address the min-

imum residency requirements necessary for eligibility

for insured health-care services. Currently, there is a

patchwork of requirements across the country, allowing

residents of some provinces much less freedom to travel

than some of their fellowCanadians fromother provinces

and territories.

Some jurisdictions permit residents to travel freely for

up to 12 consecutive months, while others force their

residents to be physically in the province for a minimum

of six months a year. It is up to the federal government to

enforce the Canada Health Act and set national standards

for health insurance eligibility. In the absence of national

standards, the current patchwork across the country will

be allowed to continue.

Also, there is currently a patchwork of rules across the

country specifying limits for prescriptionmedication that

provincial and territorial drug programs will cover. Some

jurisdictions will cover a seven-month supply, matching

the amount of time for which residents can remain out-

side of their home province while remaining eligible for

continuous health coverage. Other jurisdictions limit the

supply of prescription drugs to as few as 30 days.

Again, as the protector of national standards in health

care and a partner in providing access to drugs for many

Canadians, the federal government has an important role

to play in ensuring that Canadians who need govern-

ment-supported drug benefits continue to have access to

the medication which they require when they exercise

their right to travel.

Once we receive the replies from each party, we will

post them on our website at

www.snowbirds.org so

that

you can see where the party leaders stand before casting

your vote.

CSANews

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FALL 2015

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