Canadian snowbirds weigh COVID-19 quarantine costs against tax and health insurance consequences

Jameson Berkow
Special to the Globe and Mail
February 4, 2021


David A. Altro was quoted in Jameson Berkow’s column “Canadian snowbirds weigh COVID-19 quarantine costs against tax and health insurance consequences” in the Globe and Mail.

To read the article you can see it in part below, or click here to view it on the Globe and Mail’s website.

The Globe & Mail –
Canadian snowbirds weigh COVID-19 quarantine costs against tax and health insurance consequences: ‘We are all pretty nervous down here’

Jameson Berkow
The Globe and Mail
February 4, 2021

Bob and Diane Croteau’s plans to return to Alberta in April from Arizona were thrown into disarray last week, when Canada unveiled tough new quarantine rules for international travellers.

“We are all pretty nervous down here,” Mr. Croteau, a 71-year-old Calgary restaurateur, said in a phone interview on his way to a golf course near the home he’s owned for 11 years in Surprise, Ariz. “It is too soon for us to panic yet, but we don’t know how long this situation is going to last.”

Flying home will soon mean a mandatory COVID-19 test and quarantining in a government-approved hotel for three days at the traveller’s own expense, a cost Ottawa has pegged at roughly $2,000 a person. The Public Health Agency of Canada told The Globe and Mail by e-mail Thursday it plans to “provide further details in the coming days” on the exact timing.

Meanwhile, the steep price tag has pushed the Croteaus, along with tens of thousands of other Canadian snowbirds, to consider extending their stay in warmer climates in hopes of waiting until the rules are lifted.

Doing so may seem like the path of least resistance, but experts warn that choice could bring with it costly health-insurance consequences. Although the risks and rules apply to all overseas Canadians, those spending the winter in the United States could quite literally overstay their welcome and face a U.S. tax bill.

David Altro, managing partner of Altro LLP, which specializes in Canada-U.S. cross-border issues, said his firm has been getting many “frantic calls from our clients in the U.S. worrying about all sorts of issues.”

Many of those concerns focus on health insurance, since most snowbirds purchase travel insurance coverage for only the specific period of time they plan to be abroad. Mr. Croteau’s policy, for example, only covers him in the U.S. for 60 days at a time.

To continue reading, please click here to view the article on The Globe and Mail’s website.
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