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Monday, December 19, 2011

Wallet-snatching Americans

I read in the Globe and Mail this morning that the IRS has yet been unable to come up with a draft of the regulations they plan to force on Canadian banks in order to track the accounts of US citizens living in Canada. Rumour has it that the cost of the program to the US will far exceed the amount of tax revenue that they could possibly discover. There is also the possibility that Canadian banks will simply refuse to take on customers that are US citizens (there is no right to bank in the Charter, after all) in order to avoid penalties that could include a whopping 30% on a bank's business in the US.

For practical purposes, I won't be establishing any joint accounts for my Love and I anytime soon. Then the US could claim her earning and assets (retirement accounts, etc.) are partially mine and tax us for their value.

All I know is that as soon as I can, I'll be putting this complication behind me by renouncing my US citizenship. It's years in the offing, of course (and who knows - the IRS may never get their act together on this), but who needs these wallet-snatching Americans in their back pocket when all they do with the money is give it to their friends in the large multinationals?

Read the Globe article here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is it possible to have a harmonized border with the US?

"Those dark days when the U.S. stretched the bounds of international humanitarian law to the breaking point are hopefully gone forever. Nevertheless, U.S. law and practice still embrace elements that do not conform well to Canadian law, custom and values. This can only pose a daunting challenge to any effort at harmonization in the area of security-related law enforcement."

Read the opinion piece at The Star here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I am o-so OHIP

You hear a lot of praise for the Canadian healthcare system, as well as a lot of criticism. From what I have learned from my love, both are pretty fair. On the plus side, the provincial healthcare systems cover a lot of basic ground; checkups, flu shots, basic procedures, and even some big ticket healthcare needs (emergencies). On the negative side, it is true that many wait months and months in order to obtain some of the more complex services (related to cancer, surgeries, etc.) and there is a shortage of family doctors. My love just achieved the Holy Grail in Toronto - a family doctor in the city!

I just became eligible for the Ontario Healthcare Insurance Program, or OHIP last month. Let me say that from an American expatriate's point of view - it's a blessing. I was paying $300 per month in the US for a catastrophic healthcare insurance plan - meaning you don't use it unless you have a critical need, and even then, it doesn't cover a lot of situations. It was rising in price by 18% every year over the last three years. Now my taxes pay for my core healthcare needs.

Canada's system isn't perfect, but now I don't have to choose between eating and having health insurance.