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 » – 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 »

The Montreal Gazette – Tax Strategy: Expert Tackles Cross-Border Queries

David A. Altro Featured in the Montreal Gazette

David A. Altro is a regular contributor to Paul Delean’s business column in the Montreal Gazette. Click here to view the article online or scroll down to read David’s answer to three reader questions. Read the rest of this entry »

Good Life Connoisseur – Snowbirds Looking to Nest in the U.S.A.

David A. Altro Featured in: Good-Life Connoisseur

David A. Altro was asked to write an article for the Good Life Connoisseur magazine, which appeared in the magazine’s Spring 2014 Edition on page 32.

In the article, David explains the key tax and legal developments for Snowbirds to be aware of for 2014 based on changes that occured in 2013 and scheduled changes for 2014. The tax and legal developments are discussed in terms in US estate tax for Canadians, immigration options, the entry/exit initiative and health care in the US. Your can click here to view the article online or scroll down to read David’s article. Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of FATCA in Canada: Pros and Cons of the IGA

The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, more commonly known as FATCA, was passed in 2010. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions (“FI”s) to report on the account information of U.S. citizens and residents (including dual citizens) to the IRS starting in July 2014.

Although the requirement to report directly to the IRS violated Canadian privacy laws, there were withholding tax consequences for non-compliance with FATCA. The uproar in Canada over the privacy issue and the financial costs of implementing FATCA led to the signing of an intergovernmental agreement [“IGA”] between Canada and the U.S. on February 5, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

Your Secret is Out – How Many Days Have You Spent in the US?

We have written a number of blogs on the topic of how many days you can spend in the US, but come June 30, 2014 a new initiative will be kicked into high gear in order to track your movement across the Canada/US border.

Snowbirds have tried to get around this issue by pleading ignorance or simply believing that the US had no way of actually knowing how many days they were present within their borders, and maybe they were right. Under today’s system, both Canada and the US keep track of the day you enter the country, but not when you leave and neither country is in the habit of sharing this information with each other. However, none of this actually means that snowbirds are exempt from the rules. In fact, the implications of surpassing the number of days allowed in the US comes with dyer tax, estate, immigration and medical coverage issues. These issues have all been discussed in great detail in the past, however it is worth taking a brief moment to recap the rules. Read the rest of this entry » – Tax benefits of an estate freeze

David A. Altro and Jonah Z. Spiegelman recently co-authored an article which appeared on and is scheduled to appear in the March or April 2014 edition of Advisor’s Edge magazine. In the article, David and Jonah explain the tax benefits of an estate freeze, which is a follow up piece on David’s recent article titled The complicated landscape of US estate tax, already published in Advisor’s Edge. Click here to view the article online or scroll down to read and excerpt of the piece. Read the rest of this entry »

FATCA Update

Over the past two years and even more so in the past several months, a popular topic of discussion among tax professionals has been FATCA – the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

As the US has determined that finding US persons living outside the US for taxation purposes is a priority, new legislation has been put forward to complement the reporting of Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (TD D 90-22.1), commonly referred to as “FBAR.” This new legislation comes in the form of FATCA. Read the rest of this entry »

The Far Reach of FATCA

I spent five glorious months of my law school career on exchange in L.A. I loved living in California: when the “winter” came, I couldn’t believe how warm it was. I drove to class every day with my sunroof open and palm trees gracing the sky above me. I got myself a cute little apartment in West Hollywood and a California driver’s licence so I could get my car insured. I still carry the licence around with me in my wallet as a memento of that sunny time; it has my West Hollywood address on it, and I look tanned and happy. I also spend as much time as possible in L.A. each year visiting friends and reliving my glory days as a student.

Little did I know that my shallow American roots might one day be the cause of decidedly un-sunny times. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, more commonly known as FATCA, a U.S. tax law passed in 2010, is now making a big splash in the news. The law requires all foreign financial institutions, including banks, to report on the account information of “U.S. persons” to the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) starting in July 2014. One of the major issues with FATCA, whose primary aim is to curb tax evasion through the use of accounts held by U.S. persons at financial institutions outside the U.S., is the IRS’s definition of “U.S. person.” Read the rest of this entry »