US CANADA Visa-less Work?


If I were to buy U.S.vacation  property with a friend  would I be allowed to do repairs and or renovations? What percentage must I own? I am English born, Canadian raised but not a Canadian Citizen. Or must I have a Visa or Permit? What if i were to buy into a Partnership?

david ingram replies:

Take out your Canadian citizenship before its lack causes you problems.  Look at Lord Black's problems.

If you buy it with a friend or two or three and there are just the two or three or four of you sharing the space, and you NEVER - EVER EVER rent it out or use it for business purposes, and you are all equally involved, you can buy a vacant lot and build the whole building together.  If you buy an existing building or the one you built needs it, you can remodel, fix, repair, paint, clean up or do anything else to it.

If it is a business cabin for entertaining business guests or renting, you can not even take out the garbage.

I do not think there is any number of people limited in that partnership but if there were twenty-five and you all had a couple of week's use, I would say 'no' again because it is back to being a business type of thing.  You should ask the Homeland Security person at the border if you are thinking about some massive partnership or LLS type of ownership.

Another problem would certainly be where your friend buys a place and gives you 20% or 25% sweat equity for fixing it up.  If that is the case, the answer is 'no' again because you are 'working' in the US for remuneration in kind.

This older question will add to the answer


QUESTION: Hello David,

I'm living in Vancouver, finally paid off the student debt but don't see myself getting into
the expensive Vancouver market. I do however like to ski and was thinking of buying an
inexpensive trailer (25k Cdn) in Maple Falls Washington.
However I'm not sure what other expensives I should expect given that it's in the US.
I'm not trying to make this an investment with a high return, but I would like to do some
handy work to it to increase the value. If I add about 10k worth of value, how would that
affect my taxes in the long term?

Thanks for the advice.
david ingram replies:

One of my favourite weekends ever was in 1973 at the Chandelier (think it has a
different name now) when marooned at SnowLine  because of the gas shortage when one
could only buy gas on odd days if your licence pklatre ende dwith an odd number and
even days when it was an even number.

Strangely, it was that weekend 34 years ago that lets me answer you question now.

The cabin I was staying in was not a rental but was built by the fellow who owned it.
 When he was building it, buddies would come down and help him and one weekend, the
INS raided the spot and deported a bunch of his friends for working in the US .

He was fine building it because he owned it but no one else can hammer a nail, paint a
board, install a sink, or carry a shingle if they are not either an owner or a legal US
citizen or US resident with a green card.

If your buddy is working and living inthe US with a TN, H1, O1, P1, L1 or any other visa
but a green card, they cam NOT help you either.

And, if you are intending to rent the trailer out 'EVER', 'you' can NOT hammer a nail,
sweep the front steps or clean the toilet.

Assuming you are buying this trailer on its own lot, when you go to sell, you will owe
the US income tax on the profit.

If it is your only pioece of real estate at that time, you will not owe Canada any tax
because you can claim it as your personal residence if you have not bought another place.
However, I would far prefer that you stretched your resources to buy something in Canada
to live in and combine your present rent and the payments you would have to make for the
trailer to buy your home in Canada. If you can't afford a one bedroom, buy a studio. 
Go down to Ikea onteh Lougheed highway and look at how much they can put into a small space. 

Interestingly, I read the other day that Ikea has now sold enough furniture in North
america that 10% of all children are conceived in an Ikea Bed.  Now that is information worth knowing.

Good luck