Can Snowbirds Get The Covid
Every winter, retirees from the Northeast and Midwest head to the warmth of Florida, occupying seasonal homes and condos. But 2021 isnt like years past.
This year, snowbirds are weighing a new consideration when deciding whether to flee their cold-weather states: Where am I more likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine? So far, thats a complicated question in Florida, with little clear direction from the state.
South Florida hospitals, which have been given considerable leeway in deciding how they deploy vaccine doses in the last few weeks, have just recently pivoted from vaccinating healthcare workers to prioritizing the shots for senior citizens in the general public. The shift came after Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed during a press conference at a retirement community called The Villages last week that seniors would be next in line for the shots.
In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, that change in focus has also come with a new requirement by some hospitals: proof of local residency. Thats been the case at Mount Sinai Medical Center and Jackson Health System, as well as Broward Health.
But Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that no residency requirement has been issued by the state.
You do not have to be a resident of the county, Moskowitz said in a text message. Period.
Moskowitz said the Division of Emergency Management will notify Florida hospitals not to require proof of residency for vaccinations.
Canadian Snowbirds Flying South Hope For Prompt Covid
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Canadian snowbirds will be watching closely this week, suitcases at the ready and RVs full of fuel, to see if the United States finally eases the travel restrictions preventing them from driving south for the winter.
Some arent waiting for the White House, opting for the perfectly legal option of flying to the U.S. instead and many are planning on getting a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they get there, said Toronto travel insurance broker Martin Firestone.
The feeling Im getting from my clientele is, I will go down south as I always had planned to, but I will get my third booster shot down there and probably get it a lot quicker than I ever would waiting here, Firestone said in an interview.
People who are heading south are going to go get that booster down in the States, I can assure you of that.
On Friday, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration turned a few heads when it rejected the idea of a third shot for Americans aged 16 or older. The agency did, however, endorse a plan to make boosters available to people aged 65 or older, or at high risk of severe illness.
With Canada still a long way from formally deciding whether to offer boosters, many with U.S. travel plans simply dont want to wait for the federal health authorities and the individual provinces to make up their minds, Firestone said.
Canadian Snowbirds Getting The Covid
The story has made national headlines in the United States: Foreigners aged 65 and older in Florida, including Canadian snowbirds, are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some snowbirds who made the journey to Florida this winter despite Canada’s advisory not to travel abroad during the pandemic are counting their lucky stars, as they could wait months to get the shot in Canada. But they also face a backlash from some locals who argue non-Floridians shouldn’t get early access to vaccines that are currently in short supply.
“We’re first. Get to the end of the line if they want to come,” Florida resident Judy Allen told a local NBC TV station on Friday at a vaccine clinic in Sanford, Fla., north of Orlando.
A week earlier, Canadian snowbirds Andrew Paton, 75, and his wife, Jill, 74, each got their first vaccine dose at a clinic in a gated community in Palm City, Fla., where they own a home. They’re set to get their followup shot on Feb. 4.
“I’m just glad I got it,” said Andrew Paton, who is from Toronto. “Our American friends are thrilled. We’re part of this community. Let’s get everybody vaccinated if we can.”
But not everyone is on side. A few days after getting the shot, Paton said someone sent a letter to the board of his gated community, complaining that Canadian residents were offered the vaccine.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We’re not taking it from anybody. Everybody in this community who wanted one could get one.”
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Heading To Florida For The Vaccine
Florida’s vaccination program has also faced criticism. Although the state started offering shots to seniors last month, there have been complaints about long lineups at vaccine centres and difficulties pre-booking appointments due to high demand.
Snowbird Shelton Papple, 66, of Brantford, Ont., said a Canadian couple in his gated community in Fort Myers got the vaccine on Tuesday. But Papple said the region has temporarily run out of doses, so he will likely have to wait until next week, when supplies are replenished, to try to score an appointment.
“I’m going to get it,” a determined Papple said. “I can see the carrot on the end of the stick.”
Toronto-based travel insurance broker Martin Firestone, who caters to snowbirds, said about 50 of his clients who travelled to Florida this winter have either already received their first dose of the vaccine or have an appointment booked.
“They’re excited,” said Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc. “Their attitude is, ‘I will probably be waiting till summer at the earliest'” in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that he was troubled by the slow pace of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and vowed to address the problem.
How Snowbirds Can Be Taxed As A Florida Resident
The leaves and temperatures are falling up north. The days are getting shorter, too. These are all signs that its time for birds to head south for the winter. And that includes snowbirds that is, people who live up north during the warm-weather months but live down south during the winter. If youre one of the thousands of snowbirds heading to Florida this year, I bet youll hear a lot of talk about the tax benefits of being a full-fledged resident of the Sunshine State. After all, Florida is one of only nine states without an income tax. So if your summer home is in a high-tax state up north New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, Wisconsin and the like you can potentially save thousands of dollars each year if you can establish residency in Florida.
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Do I Have To Pay For The Vaccination
You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself.Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.
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Move Your Business To Florida
If you own a business in your summer state, moving it to Florida will certainly help your case if your status as a Florida resident is challenged.
If moving your northern business to Florida isnt possible, running it from Florida might be an option. However, business owners in Florida who are deeply immersed in their companys operations up north can have a hard time establishing residency in Florida. Even if youre running your business from a Miami Beach cabana, tax auditors in your summer state will see substantial involvement in the management of a business in their state as evidence of residency in that state. It will be weighed along with all other factors, but this type of evidence can persuade a court that youre not really a Florida resident.
The degree of your involvement in the business day-to-day operations will be looked at closely. You dont necessarily have to sell the business or completely relinquish your management role, but taking more of a hands-off approach will support your claim for Florida residency.
Where Can I Get A Vaccine
- If you are homebound or know someone who is, you can request a vaccine be delivered to your home by contacting the state’s elder helpline at 1-800-963-5337 or by emailing Florida’s Division of Emergency Management at .
- Pharmacies, health clinics and medical providers. Doses have been distributed to hundreds of hospitals and pharmacies, some of which are listed on Floridas vaccine locator tool. The tool does not list every vaccine site in the state. You can also visit the websites of CVS, Publix Pharmacy, Winn-Dixie, Harveys and Fresco y Más to find appointments.
- Local health departments. Contact your county health department to determine where you can get a vaccine. Some counties have set up vaccine hotlines for residents to more easily schedule appointments. Florida’s COVID-19 data dashboard tracks how many people have been vaccinated in the state.
- The federal governments vaccines website, Vaccines.gov, lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments. Get the same information by texting your zip code to 438829 or by calling 800-232-0233 .
- Many transit agencies are offering free or discounted rides to and from vaccination sites.
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Spend Most Of Your Time In Florida
Many states have whats called a 183-day rule, which basically means the state will tax you as a resident if you own a home there and spend at least 183 days during the year in the state. The days dont have to be consecutive, and even part of a day can count as a full day.
Snowbirds can use this rule to their advantage. If you spend more than half your time in Florida, you obviously wont reach the 183-day threshold in the state where you spend your summers. So, if your warm-weather state follows the 183-day rule, try your best to be in Florida for at least that many days each year. If you cant spend that much time in Florida, then take a vacation, visit family or friends, or otherwise spend time in some other location anything to avoid spending 183 days or more in your high-tax summer state.
Its also a good idea to keep a record of where you are each day of the year, just in case the tax agency from your northern state picks you for a residency audit. Keeping receipts from the time you spent in Florida will also help if youre audited. For instance, if you had dinner at a Florida restaurant, a receipt for the meal with a Florida address on it will help prove that you were in the Sunshine State on that particular day.
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Buy Or Rent A Bigger Home In Florida
Lets face itit doesnt really look like you intend to make Florida your permanent home if you own a giant house up north but only rent a tiny apartment in Florida. Thats why New York, for example, considers the size of each home a snowbird owns or rents to be an important factor in determining residency. So, if possible, get a Florida home thats at least roughly the same size as your northern home although its better if your home in Florida is larger.
If your summer home is in New York, at least the state will consider home size in the context of the geographic area in which each residence is located. For example, while a 3,000 square foot apartment in Manhattan may seem cramped when compared to a sprawling homestead in Florida, New York tax auditors may nevertheless see the two homes as relatively equal because the apartment is spacious by New York City standards.
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Florida Coronavirus Vaccine Residency Rule: Some Snowbirds Without Documents Threaten To Leave State
Some snowbirds are threatening to leave Florida, saying they cant get the coronavirus vaccine because theyre unable to meet the requirements to prove residency in the state, according to news reports.
On January 21, the states surgeon general, Scott Rivkees, announced that the first dose of the vaccine will be restricted to Florida residents as well as health-care workers providing direct care here.
This means either having a Florida driver license or ID card or a combination of other official documents, such as a deed, mortgage or rental lease agreement or a utility bill or bank account statement in the persons name.
Kiss snowbird related tax revenue and business revenue goodbye, a Twitter user responded when the Department of Health posted the public health advisory.
Some seasonal residents have told WINK News theyre ready to leave the state over the new order.
Carol Ciesynski, for instance, who lives in Florida five months out of the year with her boyfriend, told WINK that everything is in his name, so its like I dont even exist.
And John Lindstrom, who lives in an RV on Fort Myers Beach, told the TV station that no documents are in his name because his utilities are included in his monthly bill to lease his parking spot.
Keep Important Personal Items And Documents In Florida
Tax auditors know that most people keep prized personal possessions in their primary home. So, bring your most treasured items down to Florida for safekeeping to show that you consider the state to be your primary and permanent home. This includes all things that are near and dear to your heart, including photo albums, wedding dresses, family heirlooms, stamp or coin collections, works of art, rare books, and any other item that has sentimental value. Pets fall into this category, too. So, make sure you bring Fido down to Florida with you!
Important documents and records should also be kept in Florida. This includes mortgage documents, insurance policies, wills, passports, Social Security cards and the like. Renting a safe deposit box in Florida to hold these items is a good idea, too.
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Apply For A Florida Homestead Property Tax Exemption
In addition to paying taxes in Florida, take advantage of the states tax breaks for residents. For example, if you own a home in Florida, apply for the states homestead property tax exemption. Not only could your homes taxable value be reduced by as much as $50,000, but its further evidence of your status as a Florida resident. Thats a win-win!
To apply, submit Form DR-501 and all required documentation to the property appraiser in the Florida county where the property is located. You can also use the form to apply for property tax breaks available to disabled or blind persons, senior citizens, widows, veterans, and first responders.
If a similar tax break is available in your northern state, dont claim it if its only available to residents. If you do, youre telling your summer state that youre a resident there, not in Florida.
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Do Your Banking In Florida
Even in todays world where online banking is popular, tax auditors know that most people park their money in a bank near their home. So, if youre claiming to be a Florida resident, you should move your money to a Florida bank. It can be a national bank like Bank of America but there should be a branch close to your Florida home where you can do your banking in person . Youll also want to make sure all bank statements are sent to your Florida address.
This advice extends to all your financial activities. Start working with Florida-based brokers, financial planners, insurance agents and the like. And, again, make sure all statements, payments and notices are sent to your home in Florida, including credit card statements. If youre retired, have your Social Security checks or retirement plan distributions mailed to Florida or deposited into a Florida bank.
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Tell People Youre A Florida Resident
Yeah, we told you in the introduction that you cant just say Im a Florida resident to change your residency for state tax purposes. And thats true you cant just declare that youre a Florida resident. But even if you do all the other things were recommending, youll never convince a tax auditor from up north that youre a Florida resident if you dont present yourself as a Florida resident to the rest of the world. So, if you meet someone new, tell them youre from Florida. If youre filling out a form that asks for your address, use your Florida address. And update your Facebook page so that your Florida city or town is listed as your current home. Auditors will look for any indication that you dont really think of Florida as your primary and permanent home dont give them any ammunition.
Tell the State of Florida that youre a resident, too. File a Declaration of Domicile with the clerk of circuit court in the Florida county where you live. There isnt a standard, state-wide form that you can use. Instead, each county will have its own version as an example, click here for the Broward County form.
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