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May 20, 2021

U.S. bill provides snowbirds even more time in the sun

Canadian snowbirds may soon be able to spend as much as two months more nesting down south next year.

U.S. legislation now being debated in Congress would allow Canadians aged 55 and older to spend up to 240 days in the country without a visa, almost two months longer than the current 182-day annual limit.

The provision is not yet law, but it has the backing of New York Senator Charles Schumer, a legislator who has long been keen on finding ways to get more Canadians spending their dollars across the border.  


But there are potential pitfalls for those looking forward to such an extended stay, particularly when it comes to dealing with the possibility of getting sick while away. 

Health benefits from Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba are only good for those spending less seven months per year outside the country. In fact, in many other provinces the limit is closer to six months, although this might change in the future. 

And then there's the possibility of facing a tax bill from the IRS, depending on the level of U.S. property ownership.

"So when you consider the tax and healthcare implications, the majority of traditional Canadian snowbirds may not benefit from these new provisions," says Terry F. Ritchie, the Director of Cross-Border Wealth Services for Cardinal Point Wealth Management.

Would you stay longer in the States if the rules were changed? Or do medicare benefits trump the sun's attraction?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...