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 »

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 » – 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 »