'Snowbirds' act aims to increase Canadian tourism

Folks who live in Florida year-round know the state's population grows during the winter when the so-called snowbirds relocate to warmer climates.

A specific "species" of snowbird, the Canadian snowbird, reliably makes the annual migration to Florida to escape the cold. Now there's a push to encourage Canadian snowbirds to stay in the state a little longer.

US senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio have endorsed a bill to allow snowbirds to stay in the country longer. Right now, Canadian citizens can stay in the US for six consecutive months. After that, they have to pay federal income tax, no matter where they made the money.

The proposed legislation, being called the “Canadian Snowbirds Act,” would allow Canadian citizens over age 50 who own or rent U.S. homes to spend up to eight months a year in the country. 

The senators said the impact of Canadians on Florida’s economy is too much to ignore.

“Tourism is a crucial part of Florida’s booming economy, creating and supporting thousands of jobs all across the Sunshine State,” Rubio said in a prepared statement. “This bill will be a huge boost to our state’s economy by allowing the millions of Canadian snowbirds who visit Florida each year to stay two months longer.” 

Scott noted that Canadians accounted for 3.5 million of the 126 million visitors to Florida in 2018. 

“He knows that Canadians are the No.1 international tourism market in Florida,” said Evan Rachkovsky, spokesman for the Canadian Snowbird Association. “His endorsement of this bill is just a further track record of that.”

Similar versions of the bill have been proposed to Congress, before but never passed.