Wednesday, May 15, 2013

GOOD NEWS FOR SNOWBIRDS ?

First of all “What is a Snowbird?”  For the one person that may not know, WE are people who live in Northern climates and head South for the Winter months.

So if the following gets ‘passed’ through all the legs and arms of the various Governments it WILL BE good news for this Snowbird !!

Every now and again my EX-EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT throws me a crumb like she’s actually doing some WORK.  I say this because I take no responsibility for finding this information – she did and sent it to me.

On the off chance there is a Canadian out there who hasn’t heard about this yet, here you go.

I knew the Canadian Snowbird Association was working on trying to get the time allowed extended from six months to seven months.  This is even better !

You see there are really two parts to this equation – well probably more than two but these two are the most important.

1.  As a Canadian, we are only allowed in the States for six months a year.  If we stay longer they throw us in jail, lock the door and throw away the key – no just kidding.

2.  As a Canadian, we are only allowed out of our ‘home’ Province for six months (some Provinces it’s longer) or else we will lose our Medical Benefits.  Something we DO NOT want to screw around with !!

British Columbia just recently changed their ‘law’ to allow their residents out of their home Province for 7 months – but that is basically useless to a Snowbird.

Actually, Newfoundland is the best Province as you are allowed out of your home Province for 8 months.

So without BOTH parts changing one is really useless for the Provinces that still have the six month rule.

Here’s the first link:

http://www.tewealth.com/blog/good-news-for-snowbirds-wanting-to-extend-their-southern-migration/

For those of you that do not want to go clickie on the linkie here’s what it says:

“Every fall, my in-laws pack their bags and head for Florida, where they enjoy the warm weather and white-sand beaches. Every spring, they begrudgingly load up their van, and head back to Northern Ontario, where they settle for the summer. They stay at my house for a day or two each time they pass through. This weekend was their semi-annual stay, and on Saturday morning, they were welcomed with breakfast and view of a fresh coat of late-April snow. It was interesting to see their reaction, and a strange coincidence that the United States Senate is looking for ways to help alleviate this type of weather shock!

A new and interesting piece of legislation has been tabled for review in the United States Senate. It is entitled the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act. One of the provisions of this new act is a proposed Visa for Canadian retirees who spend a fraction of the year in the United States. The new Visa, which is being referred to as the “Canadian Retiree Visa” would allow Canadian snowbirds to spend up to eight months in the United States per year (an increase of two-months from current immigration standards).

Canadian citizens who are 55 years of age or older, who maintain a residence in Canada, who own property in the United States (or have a rental agreement for the duration of their stay in the United States), who will not engage in employment while in the United States, and who will not seek assistance or benefit while in the United States are eligible for this new Visa.

The JOLT Act has only recently been introduced, and as such, there is no timeline for specific creation of the Canadian Retiree Visa; however, this could be welcome news for individuals looking to completely escape prolonged Canadian winters.

It is unclear whether this new Visa will impact an individual’s eligibility for Canadian provincial health plans (i.e. OHIP), or how it will impact a person’s residency determination for income tax purposes. So, in the meantime Canadian snowbirds shouldn’t alter their plans or cease their 8840 filings. Rather, they should keep their ears open. If the JOLT Act is passed, healthcare coverage and income tax considerations will undoubtedly influence a snowbird’s decision to apply.”

And here’s the second link:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/05/14/snowbirds-us-bill.html

“Canadian snowbirds may be allowed to stay in U.S. longer

U.S. bill would give Canadian snowbirds more time to spend in the sun.

Canadian snowbirds may soon be able to spend an extra two months nesting in their favourite sunshine state each year.

U.S. legislation winding its way through Congress would allow Canadians aged 55 and older to spend up to 240 days — about eight months — in the country without a visa, 58 days longer than the current 182-day annual limit.

The provision is not yet law, but it has the backing of powerful New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who was recently one of the leading voices to speak out against a rejected proposal to impose a border crossing fee on Canadians.

In a New York Times article published over the weekend, a spokesman for Schumer is quoted as supporting the Canadian proposal, along with relaxing visa requirements on nationals from several other countries.

"Each of these provisions makes individual sense on the merits," the spokesman is quoted as saying. "They each solve inequities in the existing immigration law."

The Canadian Snowbird Association says it has been pushing for the change for years. A previous bill died in committee, but association researcher Evan Rachkovsky said he believes the latest proposal stands a good chance of passage. The Senate version of the bill could be voted on this summer.

Snowbirds group claim wide support for proposal

Rachkovsky said his organization has talked to more than 100 members of the U.S. Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — and has found wide support for the proposal.

"That it's attached to comprehensive immigration reform, I think that increases the likelihood of it becoming law," he said. "We definitely remain optimistic."

Some stumbling blocks to the practicality of spending eight months of the year in the U.S. remain, however.

Health coverage from Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba permits a maximum of seven months per year outside the country, meaning snowbirds would only likely get another month's pass. In many other provinces, including Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, the limit is the equivalent of six months.

But some provinces have introduced some flexibility. Quebec, for instance, permits residents to have short stays outside the province beyond the six-month limit, Rachkovsky said.

It is unclear how provinces would react if the U.S. limit were expanded.

Canadians represent a major boost to the economy in the U.S., particularly southern states such as Florida. Recently the state dropped a provision requiring an annual international drivers permit after objections raised from the strong Canadian lobby.

$16B influx

In 2011, Canadians made more than 44 million visits to the U.S., spending more than $16.5 billion.

As well, Canadians are by far the largest foreign buyers of residential real estate in the U.S., purchasing an estimated $20 billion of housing in 2012 alone.

Rachkovsky said a major reason for seeking the change is that Canadians who spend the winter in the southern U.S. often complain to his association that after exhausting the 182 days for any calendar year, they were precluded from shorter trips to visit relatives and friends in border states.

"Having an extra two months will give them greater flexibility," he said.

The proposal does appear to have the general backing of the federal government.

"We always monitor legislation impacting Canada very closely, and we support any efforts to increase trade and tourism between our two countries," a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said in response to an email query.

Canada also has a rule that allows Americans to spend a maximum of six months north of the border.”

I sure hope it gets passed !

6 comments:

  1. I sure hope it passes. But what about full-timers who don't really have a permanent residence in Canada. And what about that having to have a rental agreement in the US? I may have missed it in the reading.

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    1. We can 'get around' the permanent address part. For example, I have been using my Aunt's address since I've been on the road.
      The other part about a rental agreement - ya, I noticed that also. Will have to wait and see how it all plays out.

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  2. We have been watching this as well, but cannot see that many snowbirds will take advantage of that. 1. There is the provincial legislation. 2.Most likely it won't be affordable for most snowbirds to buy up to 8 months of additional health insurance AND own some property. With these 2 givens all that would happen is to create an "upper class" of wealthy snowbirds. The normal snowbirds would still have to go home after 6 months. Snowbirds are required to file for U.S. taxes after 182 (hundred-eighty-two) days of stay in the U.S. Those days are actually calculated after an intricate formula over 3 years. If the U.S. doesn't change that they won't see many snowbirds staying longer than 6 months. So after all there is no reason to get excited over this.

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  3. At least it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully step one will lead to step two. With the late Spring this year this was a bad year to have a deadline to be north.

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  4. Read this one Denise.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/05/14/snowbirds-us-bill.html

    7 months for British Columbia, Ontario and Manitoba, working on 8 months.

    No mention here of owning property.

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