We have called upon the contribution of tax experts from the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton for a network series of articles providing answers to questions raised by our clients doing business abroad.

A tax specialist is a professional who specializes in the application and interpretation of tax rules and regulations. These often complex rules are constantly evolving. The tax specialist’s role is to advise clients so that their tax burden is minimized to the extent permitted by law. The courts in all jurisdictions have long recognized that, unless otherwise  provided by law, taxpayers are entitled to arrange their affairs to attract the minimum amount of tax.

Q: What is the U.S. estate tax?

A: The U.S. estate tax is a tax that is payable by non-residents of the U.S. who own property in the U.S. at death. This estate tax is calculated on the fair market value of property located in the U.S. at the time of death.

Q: If at the time of my death I own real estate in Florida valued at $1,000,000, do I have to pay the U.S. estate tax?

A: For the year 2016, if the value of your worldwide estate is less than $5,450,000 (including your RRSPs), no estate tax is payable upon death. However, if the value of your worldwide estate is greater than this amount, you should consult a tax adviser from Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton.

Q: If at the time of my death, I own real estate in the U.S. but no estate tax is payable, do any U.S. tax forms still have to be filed?

A: Yes. The requirement to file form 706-NA is mandatory if, at the time of your death, you own property in the U.S. valued at over US$60,000.

Q: What is the best way to own real estate in the U.S. (condo/house)?

A: It all depends on the facts at hand, and as such, each case must be assessed individually. You should always consult your tax adviser before buying property in the U.S.

Q: Could other fees be payable at the time of my death if I own real estate in the U.S.?

A: Yes, probate fees could be payable to the State. Some planning options can make it possible to avoid probate fees.

Q: Should I prepare a mandate in case of incapacity if I own real estate in the U.S.?

A: The Canadian mandate in case of incapacity is not recognized in the U.S. You should therefore have a durable power of attorney which is recognized in the U.S.

Q: Should I amend my Canadian will if I own real estate in the U.S.?

A: In some cases it would be preferable to have a specific, English-language will for that property. Such a specific will could make it easier to transfer the property to the heirs at the time of death.

Do you have questions relating to U.S. tax issues? The tax experts of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton can help you!