Request Consult

FIRPTA Florida: Canadians/Snowbirds Selling Property in Florida

Are you a Canadian selling property in Florida? If so, you probably already know that the sale of your property in Florida is governed by the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA), a U.S. federal law.

What is FIRPTA in Florida?

In Florida and all other U.S. states, FIRPTA is legislated within the Internal Revenue Code Section 1445 to ensure the collection of tax obligations from the disposition of property by non-residents. In most cases, this applies to any Canadian selling vacation property.

Note: Dispositions include not only a sale, but also an exchange, liquidation, gift, transfer, or redemption. The steps below refer to a sale, which is the most common disposition of U.S. property.


Steps in Selling Property in Florida

1 List Your Property for Sale & Accept an Offer

After listing your property with a realtor, you then select a title/escrow company that understands how to work with Canadian sellers and with the FIRPTA requirements in Florida.

The title or escrow company will, in most cases, work on the transaction with both you and the purchaser. The IRS stipulates that the purchaser acts as their withholding agent to ensure that a sufficient amount will be withheld to satisfy the ultimate taxes payable.
Once you have accepted an offer, and the conditions and contingencies have been removed, you are ready for the next step.

2  Determine Your FIRPTA Withholding Rates & Exemptions

To make sure that the IRS is able to collect any taxes owing, the buyer is designated as the withholding agent. The buyer’s responsibility is to withhold the required amount from the purchase price and remit that amount to the IRS.

Refer to withholding rates or exemptions to determine which of the four scenarios applies to your sale.

3 Prepare and File All FIRPTA Compliance Forms

After all conditions and contingencies have been removed and the sale of your Florida property is firm, the relevant FIRPTA compliance forms need to be completed. This must be done prior to closing.

4 FIRPTA Affidavit Florida

A note about FIRPTA affidavit in Florida: If the buyer is an individual and intends to use the property as a principal residence, he/she may sign an affidavit to this effect. This might result in an exemption from, or reduction of, the amount withheld. The sale will close once this process has been completed.

5  Prepare the Required FIRPTA Withholding Forms

Canadian residents are required to report the sale of U.S. property to the IRS using Forms 8288, 8288-A, and 8288-B.

Forms 8288 and 8288-A are mandatory for all sales. If your sale qualifies for a reduction of, or exemption from, the amount prescribed by the IRS, you may apply for this reduction/exemption using Form 8288-B.

6 ITIN Number Requirement

An Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) is required by all Canadians and non-U.S. residents before filing their U.S. federal and state tax returns. The amount withheld from your sale cannot be properly applied, and possibly refunded, to your account until your tax returns are filed.

If you already have a valid ITIN, the IRS will do the following:

  • Verify the withholding details provided and the cheque received from your title/escrow company.
  • Apply the amount withheld to your tax account using your ITIN.
  • Issue and send you a final tax slip (Form 8288-A) that will include a locator number. You must have this slip in order to file your U.S. tax returns.

If you do not currently have a valid ITIN:

  • It is crucial that you apply for it as soon as possible after your sale has closed. According to the IRS, “You will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number usually within seven weeks if you qualify for an ITIN and your application is complete.” In our experience however, it usually takes about 11-12 weeks.
  • The withholding amount (see withholding rates and exemptions) will not be applied to your account until your ITIN has been assigned and you have notified the IRS of your newly issued ITIN

You will then receive a final tax slip (Form 8288-A) from the IRS. that will include a locator number. You must have this slip before filing your U.S. tax returns.

7 File All Tax Returns

Each of the sellers is required to individually file these tax returns:

  • U.S. federal personal income tax return. Note: Florida does not have a state tax, so no state return is required.
  • Canadian personal tax return.

You may be eligible to claim a foreign tax credit on your Canadian return if you paid U.S. tax. The CRA may ask for documentation of your payment and IRS transcripts for your claim to be allowed.


Take the Stress out of Selling Your Florida Property

When you work with FIRPTA CANADA INC., you can relax. Like our country’s national animal, we work industriously on your project until it’s successfully completed. We will:

  • File all required forms relating to FIRPTA.
  • Provide your title or escrow company with all required FIRPTA documentation.

After the closing of your sale, we will do the following:

  • Assist you in obtaining an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) for each of the owners of the property. FIRPTA CANADA is an approved IRS Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA).
  • File the U.S. federal tax returns, and Canadian tax returns for each seller. Note: Florida does not have a state tax, so no state return is required.


Let Your Fellow Canadians Handle the FIRPTA Process for You

Our services can be provided in person or virtually through our two offices, located in Calgary and Toronto. Contact us to start the process!