Moving to the US from Canada? Know the tax issues

Below is a blog written by my colleague south of the border,Renea Glendinning, CPA of  Kerkering, Barberio & Co.  in Sarasota Florida. It is a great summary of the tax issues facing Canadians wishing to move to the US. Beyond just US immigration issues which are discussed extensively in our blogs, people wishing to immigrate must be aware of the complex tax issues involved. I hope you enjoy Renea’s blog!

Tax information for Canadians Moving to the U.S.

Each year, many Canadians relocate their place of residence by immigrating to the U.S.  By doing so, they become subject to the U.S. tax laws with respect to taxation of income applicable to tax residents.  It is important that these new immigrants understand the obligations associated with U.S. income tax reporting and disclosure requirements.

U.S. tax residents are required to report worldwide income on their U.S. income tax return, Form 1040.  This includes income from the U.S., Canada and any other country in the world.  This can result in the same income being subject to taxation in more than one country.  For example, a former Canadian tax resident will be subject to Canadian income tax withholding on distributions from his RRSP or RRIF.  These distributions would also be subject to U.S. income taxation.  However, the U.S. would allow a tax credit for tax paid in Canada on this income.  If the tax paid in Canada exceeds the U.S. tax applicable to this income, no additional U.S. tax would be payable.  Even though the income is reportable in both countries, it does not result in double taxation.

Tax Benefits for Canadians Moving to the US

There are also potential benefits that are available under the income tax treaty between the U.S. and Canada.  When an individual departs Canada, he is treated as having disposed of many of his assets as of the date of his departure.  Canadian income tax is paid on the gain from the deemed disposition.  If the individual makes the proper election, he will be treated for U.S. income tax purposes as though he sold and repurchased the assets at fair market value on the date of departure.  For U.S. income tax purposes, the tax basis of these assets becomes the fair market value as of the date of departure from Canada.  Absent this election, the individual would be subject to double taxation on the subsequent sale of these assets.  There are also benefits provided under the treaty with respect to the taxation of Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan payments.

What Canadians have to disclose when Moving to the US

In addition, there are disclosures that may need to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service.  Some disclosures are associated with the reporting of income and others are simply for informational purposes.  Some disclosures are filed with the Form 1040, while others are submitted separately.  Failure to make full and adequate disclosure may result in the imposition of substantial penalties.  The most common of these disclosures includes:

Form 8833, Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure Under Section 6114 or 7701(b)

Form 8891, U.S. Information Return for Beneficiaries of Certain Canadian Registered Retirement Plans

 Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets

 Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect To Certain Foreign Corporations

Form 8865, Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships

Form 3520, Annual Return to Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts

Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner

Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

An Individual who immigrates from Canada to the U.S. needs to be cognizant of the U.S. income tax reporting and disclosure requirements that are applicable to his particular situation.  He should never assume that the tax laws of Canada and the U.S. are the same, as they certainly are not.  It is important that the individual obtain tax advice from a professional who is knowledgeable with respect to these specific issues.  Knowledge and proper planning will facilitate a smooth transition from the tax system of Canada to the tax system of the U.S.


Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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