US Senators Try to Encourage Canadian Visitors to Stay Longer, Pay Taxes- By: Carlos Montes
It’s common knowledge that many Canadians spend time every winter down south of the border in the US. Now, some US senators are looking at ways of stretching out the time that Canadian residents can stay in the country, to hopefully boost tourism dollars and encourage snow birds to purchase a second home.
Thousands of Canadians spend time in warmer climates in the US every winter to escape the chilly winters north of the 49th parallel. Many of these snow birds are retirees who can choose to be away from home for months on end, and according to the senators, for some of these people the only restriction for their visits is that they cannot legally stay longer than 6 months without a visa.
The new proposed bill would create a special visa for Canadian retirees that would let them stay for as long as 240 days a year as long as they can show that they have accommodations for their visit.
However, it seems that Dem. Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Senator Mike Lee are missing a key point in the plight of the Canadian snow bird, that of health care. For Canadian citizens, to continue to be eligible for medical coverage through your provincial program, you must be physically present in the province for at least six months of the year. So, for Canadians travelling to the US for the warmer months, it is entirely likely that a change in the US law will not make a great deal of difference to the number of Canadians staying for an extended vacation.
The other goals of this bill are to encourage visitors to buy home in the US and pay taxes, which sound very good from an American perspective; the US economy could very well use an injection of foreign funds to spark some vitality. But for Canadian visitors, the idea of paying out taxes to another government when they are living on retirement investment could seem like a poor use of money; add the additional taxes to the loss of their provincial health coverage and the entire theory just looks that much less inviting.
Anyone hoping to attract more Canadian, or other, visitors to the US in hopes that they’ll spend more money should first take a look at the reasons why snow birds come for as long as they do and what types of experiences they value when they’re in the US. Making changes that won’t appeal to visitors is illogical and doomed to failure.
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