Tax implications for selling a U.S. property

The CRA isn’t the only tax collector to consider

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From the February/March 2016 issue of the magazine.

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I’m considering selling my property in the U.S. I know I’ll need to pay capital gains on the appreciated value but do I claim the gains in U.S. or Canadian currency?

—Paul and Barb, Fort McMurray, Alta.

Timing is everything, in both comedy and taxes. According to Philippe Brideau, spokesperson for the CRA, both the cost of the property to buy and the proceeds of the sale must be converted into Canadian dollars using the exchange rate at the time of each transaction. You then report the capital gain, or loss, on your tax return based on “the difference between those two Canadian dollar amounts.” But the CRA isn’t the only tax collector to consider. The U.S. also cares about that property sale, explains Kim Moody of Calgary-based Moodys Gartner Tax Law. “A Canadian needs to first report a gain or loss in the U.S. by filing a U.S. tax return—form 1040NR—and paying any applicable U.S. taxes.” Expect to pay a withholding tax to the Internal Revenue Service, which you claim as a foreign tax credit on your Canadian tax return. Now, if this is a place in the sunny south, I hope you get to enjoy one last season down there.

Bruce Sellery is a frequent guest on financial television shows and author of Moolala. Do you have your own personal finance question? Write to us at

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