Moving to Toronto to study - David

My_question_is: Applicable to both US and Canada
Subject:        Moving to Toronto to study
Expert:         taxman at
Date:           Monday May 01, 2006
Time:           10:23 PM -0700
Hello, you have a great website!  I am a US citizen, leaving my job to go to
school in Toronto for a 5 year PhD program.  I will be on a student visa,
and will not seek Canadian citizenship (although I'm not sure about
residency?)  My questions concern investments and retirement plans.
Should I keep my 401k plans as is, or roll them over to a special plan?
Can I still have an investment account here in the States?  The account is
used for trading and holding some dividend funds.
Thank you!
david ingram replies:
Congratulations on your choice of an alma mater.  The U of T is a quality
institution and its degrees are recognized around the world without
When you come to Canada as a student, you are usually an official
non-resident for 5 years.  You can drive with your US licence and keep a US
licence on your car as long as you do not get a work permit.  Do that and
you lose your non-res status and are subject to every Canadianism we have.
You can go to and read the US / Canada Income Tax section in
the second box down on the right hand side and get a real good idea about
the taxation rules for an American living in Canada as a worker.
If you go to the top left hand side box and click on the Newsletter section,
the Oct 93 newsletter gives a good dissertation on the advantages and
disadvantages (there are none for you) of being a dual US / Canada citizen.
If you read the Oct 95 newsletter, it will give you a dissertation on what
you have to do as a US citizen living.  and if you read the November 2001
newsletter, you will learn how to make your mortgage interest a better
deduction in Candia than mortgage interest is in the US.
My recommendation, don't waste your time in Canada on a mere degree.  Apply
for PR status (permanent residence) immediately and get Canadian
Roll your 401 into a conventional IRA for ease of management.
It is up to your broker as to whether you can keep your US accounts.
Thousands of people have US accounts but every week or two I receive a
plaintiff phone call from someone who has had his or her US broker tell them
that they cannot handle their account any more.
In these cases, I recommend Shaun Rickerby, a TD Waterhouse Broker who has
made it his mandate to look after cross border clients as I do.  I have
never met him in person but have sent many satisfied people to him.  If you
have brokerage questions, I recommend that you contact him directly at:
Shaun Rickerby CFP, CIM, FCSI
Associate Portfolio Manager
Snr. Investment Advisor
TD Waterhouse Private Investment Advice
604-482-5183 Fax
His email address is:  Shaun.Rickerby at
If he can not help you with the answer, he can tell you how to get around
it, if possible.
David Ingram's US / Canada Services
US / Canada / Mexico tax, Immigration and working Visa Specialists
US / Canada Real Estate Specialists
My Home office is at:
4466 Prospect Road
North Vancouver,  BC, CANADA, V7N 3L7
Cell (604) 657-8451 -
(604) 980-0321 Fax (604) 980-0325
Calls welcomed from 10 AM to 10 PM 7 days a week  Vancouver (LA) time -
(please do not fax or phone outside of those hours as this is a home office)
email to taxman at <mailto:taxman at> <>
Disclaimer:  This question has been answered without detailed information or
consultation and is to be regarded only as general comment.   Nothing in
this message is or should be construed as advice in any particular
circumstances. No contract exists between the reader and the author and any
and all non-contractual duties are expressly denied. All readers should
obtain formal advice from a competent and appropriately qualified legal
practitioner or tax specialist for expert help, assistance, preparation, or
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