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My first church was in Canada and loved the experience.  Just be aware of certain things if you wish to return to the U.S. which no one warned me about:

1.  You must file income tax returns in the U.S. while you live in Canada

2.  You will receive 0.00 credit for income towards Social Security.  (Your benefit is based on the 35 years of highest earnings.  Your earnings in Canada will be 0.00 in the U.S.). Your years of service will be credited as years of service for SS but not the amounts, meaning your benefit will be lower.

3.  If you have student debt in the U.S. it will suddenly be much larger because you are paid in dollars worth less than your debt dollars.  

4.  If you buy a car in Canada (because your old one need replacing) you will pay horrendus taxes in Canada, but pay them again in the U.S. when you return (the amount depending on the state you move to).

5.  My pension statement for the years of service in Canada seldom increases (It seems that because the final average salary in Canada is frozen, your pension is also frozen and does not increase with the cost of living during your working years—and of course it never increases after you retire).

6.  If you save for retirement in an RRSP these are not truly recognized in the U.S. as retirement accounts.  There is a treaty for the Federal government that gives you some benefit when you return, but it's an entirely different matter for state taxes.  For example, California treats it as a regular brokerage account.  The problem is compounded that Canadian reporting on RRSP's doesn't give you the data you need for your taxes here, making it an expensive thing as you need to hire an accountant that specializes in American/Canadian tax law.

7.  Then there is the reporting requirements in the U.S. for having an account outside the U.S.  (And these seem to keep changing).

If you're moving to Canada, and don't intend to come back, that's one thing (I loved it there).  But if your intention is to return, you need to do some planning not to have some rather annoying and expensive surprises that might last for the rest of your life.

Thanks for the answer.  I never do anything without having the law clearly behind me (part of the reason for my question), so integrity is not at issue here.  I was merely asking because according to the IRS:

1.  security systems are allowable for the housing exclusion

2.  dogs are deductible for businesses who use them for security (and were also when home offices were deductible) 

so the question is simply would they be allowable also for security for the housing exclusion. 

Don't worry, I have no plan of doing so unless some legal guidance has been given somewhere.

Thanks again for your opinion.


Thanks Kieth, the security company calls you and you have to check it out and call the police yourself.  The security company will send someone at a charge.  The police are too over worked to answer house alarms.  It was the police who told me a dog would be more effective than an alarm system.  The question regarding the housing exclusion rose to my mind when I read that Guard dogs are acceptable business expenses according to the IRS.  I guess we could ask college presidents, military personnel and a host of other people benefiting from the exclusion.  My dog is an Akita.  This from the Akita Rescue Society should dispel any concerns about its guarding abilities:  I'm going to ask my accountant to look into it.

Don Cowart on December 5, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Josh,I don't write on here much, but racisism is more deeply imbedded in people than you think.  You just have to dig a little deeper beneath the friendly exterior people put on.   I initially thought the way you did.  I never imagined racisim was a problem until I once overheard a group of influenctial people at a church function talking about blacks (and they weren't calling them blacks).  I was shocked because I imagined racism a thing of the past and I imagined the people of the church a whole lot more sanctified than they were.  People will make accusations they are being ignored, etc, if the message is one they don't want to hear.

Sorry, my comment got posted before I was finished and I couldn't delete it (so I have to do this way by leaving a remnant)

Be aware that if you are an American, serve in Canada and open an RRSP and then move back to the U.S., RRSP's are not counted as retirement accounts by the U.S. or the states.   There are also reporting requirements to the Feds and the States.  First, when you make withdrawals you will take a 25% tax hit from Canada unless you turn it into a RIFF, then it is 15%.  Second in the U.S. the amount in the account when you enter the country is tax free, only the growth after entrance into the U.S. is taxed (provided you have jumped through the necessary reporting hoops).  There are complicated formulas to figure which is which out on an annual basis.   The states vary.  In California, for example, the account is treated more or less as a taxable investment account and you pay taxes on your dividends every year (they do not grow tax free).  Only the amount in the account before entering the country (or state, that part of it is not clear) is considered tax free.  Again, upon taking distributions in retirement there will be complicated formulas for determining what is tax free and what is taxable.  There is, however, a foreign tax credit for the taxes you pay in Canada.

In Bible days there was the morning and evening sacrifice.  This was daily.  The synagogue had a service at the beginning and end of the Sabbath (Friday night and then again on Saturday) which would have been Jesus' practice.   The Roman Catholic church also had daily vespers and in some areas of Holland that practice continued after the Reformation — the broader assemblies tried to stamp that practice out promoting instead 2 services on the "Lord's Day" only (at first the Dutch did not even want services on holidays like Christmas, Ascension, Good Friday).  Within a short while the Dutch church order prescribed that the Heidelberg Catechism be preached in the second service.  So a morning and evening service is as old as Christendom, definitely older than the CRC itself.  (Just as a note:  When the Dutch government made religious holidays "holidays" i.e. free days, the churches instituted services on those days, more out fear for what people might be doing in their free time than out of a concern to celebrate those feast days). 

Hey, I'm CRC but serve the RCA in Modesto CA so we might not meet your qualifications.  We have a community garden year round (about 130 plots).  Nearly all of the gardeners are from the community rather than the church and it becomes their home away from home, spending the whole day or evening out there), many are immigrants from the middle east or eastern Europe.  We charge a minimal fee (30 dollars a year) to ensure that people actually use their plots and which helps cover water and garbage pick up.  (When we had no charge there were a lot of plots left barren).  The garden usually is fully occupied and people grow a lot of things uncommon to the U.S. (even bananas).  It has been featured a number of times in the paper.

If emotional overtones disqualify the word "wrath", I guess we'll also have to be looking for a replacement for the word "love".  Besides the emphasis on satisfaction doesn't stand on its own (in the song, in the catechism, in the Bible) but to underline the costliness and depth of God's love.

Posted in: Invited

I appreciate the points you make but I still do have some reservations.  There is definitely a difference between baptism and the Lord's Supper.  Sometimes I think we impose a sacramental theology on the ordinances of Christ.  (We first define sacraments and then make the Lord's Supper and Baptism fit the definition).  In baptism God acts exclusively. He takes us into his covenant.  From that moment on the relationship is two fold:  God - Us.  And that obligates us to respond in faith.  But God acts first and alone in baptism.  The Lord's Supper, however, is communion with God.  We both act:  God speaks to us, and we respond believingly.  Christ gives himself in bread and wine and we take and eat. That is a major difference between the Lord's Supper and the Baptism of covenant children.  In baptism they do not act.  In the Lord's Supper they do.  And we do not commune with God by just eating the bread and drinking the cup, but only when we do so in faith.  Which is why I believe a profession of faith is necessary for participation in the Lord's Supper.  

When should a person profess their faith?  That is another question.  I have no problem with young children professing their faith and particpating on the basis of that profession at communion, but it is far from a cure-all for the loss of our youth or their spiritual formation.  Our Lutheran and Catholic neighbors having been doing that for centuries and they loose their youth even more rapidly than we loose ours.  I have seen the same thing happen among the Reformed in the Netherlands. And it becomes no less a formalistic thing than the old custom where it was almost a graduation from catechism.  Parents feel pressured to have their children conform to others.  And when you hold youth to the life style required by the Lord's Supper you get as answer:  it wasn't my choice, or  eveyone was doing it, I was just going along, or it was my parent's decision.  The Lord's Supper clearly does not automatically form faith.

I don't have the solution.  But there does have to come a moment where faith is conscious choice and not just "because that is the way I was raised."  Without that faith, you may be handed the body and blood of Christ, but all you eat are bread and wine.  A meaningful participation where a person's faith is strengthened happens only when there is an understanding of who Christ is and what he has done, what is being said through the Lord's Supper to us, and my believingly accepting it.

This is also a difference with the preaching of the Word.  You can hear the Word and not believe.  The Lord's Supper, however, requires faith for a real participation in the "sacrament."  So I would not have a problem requiring my children to attend worship and listening to the Word —I expect God to use that means to create faith.  But I would not require my children to consider taking communion until there is evidence that they have faith and that they have "come out" with that faith.

I think it is unwise (and more anabaptist than reformed) to say that a person who has fallen is unsuitable to ever serve again in the same or a different capacity.  If that were the case, Jesus made a mistake reinstating Peter as lead apostle.  To say nothing of David who according to OT law should have been executed but was able to continue in his office.   Each case needs to be evaluated individually, rather than following rigid harsh rules.

Both God and the person wishing to profess her faith are important and the pastoral challenge is not to offend either.  I always underline that baptism is a sign of God's claim on a person.  God's claim isn't fickle that it has to be constantly renewed.  It's there always no matter what we do. It speaks to us every day.  He doesn't ever take it back (so that it has to be done over).  He is trustworthy.  Profession of faith is accepting God's claim.  (That's why I always have confessors stand around the font filled with water, and I dip my hand in the water by that question and let them see and hear it fall).   We on the other hand are fickle and will have to reconfess / reconfirm our faith many times.  That sign once given in baptism is always there as a sign that God will take us back.  But again, young believers are sensative.  One has to honor both the sacrament and the person.

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