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Canadian Snowbirds Act

Is it actually going to happen? This has been a long time coming and, even though my hopes are up a little bit, the act might stall and never get signed into law.

For those of us full-timing in Canada, getting an extra two months would be wonderful although restrictions to health care coverage in Ontario would reduce that extra time to just one more month.

Care to see how we are held hostage in our province?

Here are the rules concerning our health care coverage:

You may be out of the province for up to 212 days in any 12-month period and still maintain your Ontario health insurance coverage provided that you continue to make Ontario your primary place of residence.

To maintain eligibility for OHIP coverage you must be an eligible resident of Ontario. This means that you must :

  • have an OHIP-eligible citizenship/immigration status; and
  • be physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12-month period; and
  • be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days immediately after establishing residency in the province; and
  • make your primary place of residence in Ontario.

If you plan to be outside Canada for more than seven months in any 12-month period you can keep your OHIP coverage for up to two years if you:

  • have a valid health card
  • make Ontario your primary home
  • will be in Ontario for at least 153 days a year in each of the two years immediately before you leave the country

One cannot make this stuff up.

For us, the advantage of the Canadian Snowbirds Act is that it would simplify the tax issues with the U.S. government. Because of U.S. tax laws, Canadian snowbirds could be subject to double taxation even when they stay within the six-month limit. Every year, we need to file a closer connection to Canada form with the IRS to ensure that we are not taxed as resident aliens. This bill would increase the pleasure visa to eight months and include a tax provision which would eliminate any potential U.S. tax implications.

Here is the press release on the U.S. Senate bill:

On September 18, 2019, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced the Canadian Snowbirds Act, S. 2507 in the U.S. Senate. This bill would allow eligible Canadian retirees to spend up to eight months vacationing in the United States annually – two months longer than the current six-month limit.

This legislation is the companion bill to the Canadian Snowbird Visa Act, H.R. 3241 which was introduced in the House of Representatives in June by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL-22).

To be eligible for this extension, travellers will need to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Have Canadian citizenship;
  • Be 50 years of age or older;
  • Maintain a residence in Canada;
  • Own a residence in the U.S. or have a rental agreement for the duration of stay;
  • Will not engage in employment in the United States; and
  • Will not seek government assistance or benefits.

Both the House and Senate bill also contain a tax provision which will shield snowbirds from negative tax ramifications in the United States. Despite spending more than six months in the U.S., those who are approved for this extension will be considered non-residents of the U.S. for tax purposes.

Before this extension can be signed into law, it must first be passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

I’ll keep watching the status of the bill. Perhaps one day it will become law.