US immigration, Snowbirds and tax liability

British Columbia Snowbirds who intend to flee the Canadian winters in favour of warmer locales across the border and to the south may not realize that they might be obliged to pay taxes in the United States. The answers to these questions are complicated. For this reason, it might be a good idea to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in all matters related to U.S. immigration.

One crucial mistake to avoid is confusing the U.S. income tax laws with those related to immigration. Advisers say that such confusion may create a misconception that Canadians may spend half of each year south of the border without having some of the income tax responsibilities to which United States residents are bound. The border control of both countries collaborate with information related to border crossings, providing both countries data about the length of stays on each side of the border.

Some of the questions that need answering to determine liability to pay United States taxes include whether the individual has citizenship or residency in the United States. A British Columbia resident who has a green card will meet the test for substantial presence, which may indicate subjectivity to United States income tax laws. This could include the obligation to file an income tax return, including any sources of income in Canada.

Discussing these issues with an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer in British Columbia who typically has additional tax resources that can explain the laws related to tax liability. There might be additional requirements for disclosure of financial information related to other assets outside the borders of the United States. The lawyer may also be able to identify the personal exemptions and deductions to which the individual will be entitled.

Source: intelligencer.ca, "Canadians traveling to the US beware", March 2, 2018

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