News Summary


Over the past week, our team has noted interesting cross-border news stories and written blogs on current cross-border topics. We’ve shared these articles on our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, but recap them for you here: Read the rest of this entry »

Annual Snowbird Outlook: BMO Predicts U.S. Vacation Home Boom

Blog by David A. Altro

BMO Bank of Montreal recently published its Annual Snowbird Outlook, which predicts that the value of U.S. vacation homes is on the rise. According to BMO, Canadian snowbirds who already own U.S. vacation property can expect their U.S. property to appreciate, creating healthy capital gains. For the more than 500,000 Canadians who own property in Florida, this is welcome news. For Canadians looking to purchase a U.S. vacation home in sunny states like Florida, Arizona and Nevada, now is the perfect time as the BMO report states that: Read the rest of this entry »

Tax Issues for American Citizens Living in Canada: FATCA

Blog by Shlomi Steve Levy

Altro Levy has been closely following the implementation of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) in Canada. In February, I blogged about the intergovernmental agreement (the “IGA”) between the Canadian and American governments; under the IGA, Canadian financial institutions share information on bank accounts held by U.S. persons that are worth $50,000 USD or more with the Canada Revenue Agency rather than directly with the IRS, which would have violated Canadian privacy laws. (For more information on the details of the IGA, which was signed on February 5, 2014, read our blog on the pros and cons of the IGA here.) FATCA continues to be prominently featured in the news as American citizens living in Canada rail against FATCA and the IGA. Read the rest of this entry »

Expatriate Tax Issues and Strategies: The IRS Eases Reporting Requirements for RRSPs


Canadians move to the U.S. for a variety of reasons. Some Canadians are drawn to states like California, Florida and Arizona, which offer the promise of year-round warmth and sunshine; others may want to be close to family members who live in the U.S.; and others might be permanently relocated south of the border by their employers, a move which can have significant tax consequences for employees, such as being subject to departure tax or U.S. estate tax.

While moving to the U.S. is appealing to many Canadians, Canadian expats must consider their cross-border tax obligations once they are on the other side of the border. Navigating the rough terrain of expatriation tax and other cross-border taxes can be a challenge, but there is some new relief for expats who maintain RRSPs in Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

Tax Issues for American Citizens Living in Canada: Estate Tax

Blog by David A. Altro & Jonah Z. Spiegelman

The federal U.S. estate tax is an incredibly important topic for some U.S. citizens and a complete non-issue for others. As such, it is useful to understand the rules, if only to determine whether or not it is something you need to be concerned with.

The first point for every U.S. citizen to remember is that the IRS will impose an estate tax on the fair market value of all assets owned by the deceased, regardless of where they are located, and regardless of where the person lived. Just by virtue of citizenship, the IRS has jurisdiction to tax an American’s worldwide estate. Read the rest of this entry »

Corporate Relocation: Managing Tax Residency Risk


In our globalized world, corporate relocation of employees between Canada and the U.S. is becoming more common. Mobilizing talent across borders is often a key strategy for companies hoping to maximize their human resources, but compliance with laws on both sides of the border can be challenging. Luckily, by considering tax and estate planning issues before an employee moves, the risks of relocation can be mitigated. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Estate Tax Debate


The U.S. estate tax continues to be debated by our neighbours to the south.

Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) shared his views on U.S. estate tax earlier this month in a Huffington Post blog. He plans to introduce legislation that will restructure the U.S. estate tax system. He suggests reducing the U.S. estate tax exemption from the current $5.34 million value to the 2009 exemption rate of $3.5 million. Any estate worth between $3.5 million and $10 million would be taxed at 40%, with the tax rate progressing to 50% for estates valued between $10 million and $50 million and 55% for estates worth more than $50 million. He aims to close estate tax loopholes and introduce a billionaire’s surtax of 10% on estates worth more than $1 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

The Benefits of Owning a U.S. Property in a Trust

Blog by Bonnie L. Altro

Holding property titled in personal names is the most common, simplest and least expensive way to go about owning US real estate. Be forewarned, however, that the issues that can arise in such an ownership structure are important ones and the consequences of not planning appropriately can be costly.

Avoiding Probate and Bypassing Guardianship Procedures

Probate is the legal procedure required to transfer legal title to children or beneficiaries upon your death. As per Florida statutes, for example, probate may cost up to approximately 3% of the value of the Florida estate upon the date of death. If a Florida property costs $200,000 USD to purchase, probate fees and expenses translate into approximately $6,000 USD. Of course, it is highly likely that the value of the property will have greatly appreciated at the time of death and that probate expenses would be significantly higher. Read the rest of this entry » – Client caught in cross-border trap


Matt C. Altro and Jonah Z. Spiegelman were recently interviewed by Dean DiSpalatro from Advisor’s Edge to analyze a case study about cross-border traps. The analysis was published in the June edition of the Advisor’s Edge magazine and also appeared online on

In the article, Matt and Jonah review what mistakes “Rob” has made as an American who has moved to Canada and what he should have done to be tax compliant in both countries among other cross-border traps that he fell into. Click here to view the article online or scroll down to read an excerpt from the piece. Read the rest of this entry »

May 2014 – Dollars and Sense Radio Show


Montreal, Quebec – May 22, 2014

On the May 22nd episode of Dollars and Sense on CJAD 800 AM, David A. Altro, Managing Partner, Florida Attorney & Canadian Legal Advisor, was joined by Matt C. Altro, Cross Border Financial Planner, Partner & COO at Altro Levy LLP and Principal & CEO at MCA Cross Border Advisors Inc.

The show featured David Altro’s and Jonah Spiegelman’s new book Americans Living in Canada – Smile, the IRS is Watching You by reviewing key topics discussed in the book. The book breaks down complicated tax laws and estate planning into four main sections: Read the rest of this entry »