Snowbirds – Filing a US Tax Return Exception?
Do you travel to the US for the winter for long periods of time? If so, you may need to file an exception to filing a US tax return that is due June 15 each year.
If you don’t want to face some possible penalties, you may need to file a form called the Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens, IRS form 8840.
Many people think that if you spend less than 180 days in the US, you are safe. But that is not completely correct. It depends on how many days you spent in the US in the past three years. If you spent more than 121 days in each of the past three years (2011, 2010, and 2009) you should be filing for an exception.
The exception acknowledges that you had a significant presence in the US, but that you have closer ties to Canada.
Here’s how the formula works: calculate the number of days you were in the US in 2011 (for some snow birds that is often January to maybe April and sometimes November and December). Then calculate the number of days for 2010 and for 2009.
You need to file for an exception if you are considered to have a “substantial presence” in the US in the past three years. If it exceeds 182 days, you need to file.
You use a formula that works like this: you include all the days in 2011, one third of the days in 2010 and one sixth of the number of days in 2009.
So you are close to the 183 days if you spent 121 days in each of the three years (2011 – 121 days; 2010 is 40 days (1/3 of 121) and 2009 is 20 days (1/6 of 121). That totals 181. You are very close to having to file; remember the magic number is 183 days.
Why has this not been a big deal in the past? Well, it was harder for the US government to keep track of you. Remember we could cross the border with just our driver’s license and birth certificate. Now we need our passports. And don’t you think they are keeping track of when you came into the country and when you leave??
So if you think you might qualify as having a “substantial presence” in the US, better get that form completed. You can find it on the US taxation (IRS) website:
If you don’t have access to the internet, or you need some help, give me a call or drop by my office.
Final reminder to those of you that are self employed. The filing tax deadline for us is June 15 to avoid any penalties. Of course the interest on what we owed started accruing on April 30, but at 5% interest, it’s not too bad. So get your tax information in soon. I still need to get mine filed before June 15 after I get everyone else’s looked after first!
Anni Markmann is a tax professional and a financial advisor working, living, and volunteering in our community. Contact Anni at email@example.com or 422-6631 or 36 Dawson Rd in Ste Anne.