Tracking Time in the United States

How the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and you track length of stay may not align. See why the 180-day rule of thumb may not protect you from potential tax.

04.01.2017 - David Cieslowski, Vice President, Private Wealth Counselor

Tracking Time in the United States

Whether to escape winter, visit family, or attend a meeting, Canadians visit the United States often and for considerable periods of time. Talking to frequent US visitors, it is common to hear, “I always stay less than 180 days a year so I do not get taxed.”

That 180-day benchmark is a familiar rule of thumb, which is actually quite risky to rely upon as your sole protection from US taxation. Managing that risk starts with knowing how the regulations work and how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tracks your time.

The IRS applies the Substantial Presence Test (SPT) to determine if individuals (who are not citizens or permanent residents) are considered residents for tax purposes. Many people who use the 180-day rule measure their time according to the current year while the SPT measures days spent in the United States during the previous three years.



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