May 2015 edition of the STEP Journal – Right place, right time


In the May 2015 edition of the STEP Journal, David A. Altro, Managing Partner and Florida Attorney & Canadian Legal Advisor at Altro Levy LLP, and Heela Donsky, Associate and Ontario Lawyer at Altro Levy LLP, published an article featured in the “US and Canada” section of the journal. In the article they explain when a Canadian resident can defer capital gains tax on the sale of US property.
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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 »

The Expatriation Trap

Blog by Jonah Z. Spiegelman
There is no doubt that US citizens living abroad are feeling the brunt of recent efforts to enforce tax rules around foreign assets and income. Unlike any other developed nation, the US continues to impose income tax filing requirements on its citizens, regardless of where in the world they make their homes.
For most Americans in Canada, tax compliance stateside has long been little more than an exercise in paperwork. High Canadian tax rates, combined with relatively generous rules around excluding foreign income and a Treaty-supported foreign tax credit regime, has meant that actually having to pay tax to the US was a rarity. This likely contributed to the situation that many find themselves in – US citizens resident in Canada for decades and have never filed returns in the US. Read the rest of this entry »

The Cost of Expatriation: U.S. Citizens Living in Canada

Blog by Shlomi Steve Levy

It is widely known that the U.S. taxes its citizens on their worldwide income – even if they live abroad. As a result, taxes for U.S. citizens living in Canada can be very complicated.

U.S. citizens must file U.S. income tax returns every year, as well as other information returns. Although they may not owe any tax to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) due to foreign tax credits available under the Canada-U.S. Tax Treaty for tax paid to the Canada Revenue Agency, they still have to file. Read the rest of this entry »

Equality for Same Sex Couples in the United States and the Impact on Canadians

Blog by Jason S. Ansel

The start of 2015 came with some very exciting news for our neighbours down in the sunshine state. Florida has officially become the 36th State to recognize and allow same sex couples to marry.

This new development became official less than one week into 2015 when a federal judge’s stay on a ruling overturning the state’s ban on marriage equality expired.

This expiration deadline was being closely watched and as a result many marriage certificates were being handed out in counties around the State in advance of the official deadline. Read the rest of this entry »

US Real Estate Transactions and the Perils of Post Occupancy

Blog by Jason S. Ansel

There are many Canadians buying real estate in the US and anyone who has made a purchase south of the border can attest to how different the process can be. One of the main differences, which we have discussed in previous publications, is that the US does not require you to have your own legal representative. In fact, it is likely that your realtor has gone as far as saying that you do not need to have a lawyer review your contract or assist in the closing of the transaction. While that is technically true, it is not something we recommended. Having proper counsel over the course of your US purchase or sale can be the difference between a smooth or bumpy transaction. 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 »

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 »