Biggest Tax and Legal Developments for Snowbirds and others looking to nest in the U.S. this season

Don't leave home without top tips from cross border firm Altro Levy

TORONTO, Oct. 24, 2013 /CNW/ - With the turkey transformed into sandwiches and soup, the post-Thanksgiving dash to the Sun Belt states is next on the radar for Canadian snowbirds. Canadians are the biggest foreign purchasers of U.S. residential real estate and already own an estimated $50 billion worth in Florida alone. That same state hosts over 500,000 Canadians each winter and if the top five snowbird destinations - Florida, Arizona, California, Hawaii and Texas - are included, the number of Canadians wintering in America is exponentially higher - and growing. Beyond snowbirds, there are thousands of Canadians who choose to take up permanent residence in the U.S. each year. Whether planning a routine winter in the Sun Belt, considering a first purchase or a permanent move, Altro Levy says Canadians need to brush up on the latest legal developments that will affect them this 2013/14 season.

"Tax, healthcare and real estate laws are complex and ever-evolving and the fact that they vary between states and provinces doesn't make things any easier for snowbirds," says David A. Altro, Managing Partner at Altro Levy and author of the new book Owning U.S. Property the Canadian Way. "That's why it is so important Canadians take the time each year to review any changes that could impact their purchase, their stay or their wallet."

Altro Levy has outlined some of the most important developments impacting Canadians with either U.S. property or considering a permanent move this year:

  1. Tax: A new U.S. immigration bill that is likely to pass will extend the number of days Canadians can spend there. Snowbirds planning to capitalize on the opportunity need to properly prepare for an extended stay to avoid being taxed as a U.S. resident or losing access to their provincial healthcare coverage.
  2. Healthcare: Obamacare is making things a little easier for Canadians interested in moving to the U.S. who need private healthcare insurance. New legislation protects the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions who, as of 2014, cannot be denied private healthcare by insurance providers.
  3. Home ownership: With such great deals to be had in the Sun Belt, many Canadians rushed into purchases last year and may not have been well-informed about the pros and cons of the many ownership structures that now exist. There is no one-size-fits-all, so now is the time to assess how you own your property to minimize U.S. estate tax and avoid probate and incapacity procedures.
  4. Buying real-estate: This may be the last year to get rock bottom home prices in Florida and Arizona as the market begins to rebound. Make an informed purchase by getting familiar with evolving laws in the U.S. around Estate Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Liability Issues and Probate and how these impact you and your family should you rent or sell your property, or if you were to pass away.
  5. Retirement savings: Prolonging your golf season isn't the only reason to stay in the south. Spending more time in the U.S. can result in a bigger retirement nest egg, including your RRSPs, pensions, and income tax savings. Do your homework to ensure you are making the most of your retirement savings once stateside.
  6. Estates: For married same-sex snowbirds looking to make a permanent move to the U.S., the demise of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the U.S. is exciting news. With it comes a wealth of new tax, estate planning, retirement and immigration opportunities, including the ability for U.S. spouses to sponsor their Canadian spouse.

About Altro Levy

With over twenty-five years of legal experience, Altro Levy LLP is a boutique law firm providing sophisticated cross border tax, estate planning and real estate legal services to high net worth individuals. With offices in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Florida and Arizona, Altro Levy serves all Canadians and Americans who wish to enjoy a cross-border lifestyle. The firm regularly represents Canadians who have U.S. assets, Canadians with adult children in the U.S., Canadians moving to the U.S., as well as Americans in Canada. The firm works together with investment advisors, accountants, attorneys, wealth managers and other professionals to develop and implement the best possible tax and estate plans for Canadian clients. For more information, please visit www.AltroLevy.com

Image with caption: "Whether planning a routine winter in the Sun Belt, considering a first purchase or a permanent move, cross-border firm Altro Levy says Canadians need to brush up on the latest legal developments that will affect them this season. (CNW Group/Altro Levy)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131024_C6746_PHOTO_EN_32505.jpg

SOURCE: Altro Levy

For further information:

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Tricia Weagant
Ketchum Public Relations
Tricia.weagant@ketchum.com
416.355.7431

Annick Létourneau
Massy Forget Langlois relations publiques
aletourneau@mflrp.ca
514.842.2455, ext 28

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