How Do I Establish Domicile in Florida if I Spend More Time in Massachusetts?
I have recently retired and moved from Massachusetts to Florida, though I have kept my condominium in Massachusetts. I keep hearing “domicile” stories at cocktail parties. I have done all the traditional things, declaration of domicile, final Massachusetts tax return filed, address changes, voter registration, car registration. My plan for this year is as follows: January 1 – May 19 (137 days net of travel) in Florida, the rest of May, June, July and August in Massachusetts, and August 1-7 in Maine (6 net days), in Massachusetts for rest of August, September, October, part of November, travel to Florida November 17 and stay there through the end of the year. This is 186 days totally outside Massachusetts. I’m hearing that these days in Maine may not count since I’m exiting Massachusetts and entering Massachusetts. Do I need to rethink this plan if the Maine days are going to count on a Massachusetts DOR audit? I file jointly with the standard deduction and my income would not put me in the Massachusetts extra 4% bracket.
As in your case, you can have more than one residence, but only one “domicile” or legal residence for tax purposes. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about domicile. As stated on the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website: “You can’t choose to make your home one place for general living purposes and in another for tax purposes. Your legal residence is usually where you maintain your most important family, social, economic, political, and religious ties, and it depends on all the facts and circumstances per case, including good faith.”
Taxing agencies look at a number of different “indicia” to determine domicile. Being in the state for more than half the year is a strong indication of domicile as are all the the other steps you have taken — voter registration, car registrations, drivers licenses. The issue in your case is that you have to be domiciled someplace and if not in Massachusetts, then where? You have done everything you can to establish legal residency in Florida. I don’t know how Massachusetts would consider your time in Maine, but my guess is it would be irrelevant. More relevant would be your relative time in Massachusetts and Florida and it sounds like you still spend a lot more time in Massachusetts than in Florida. I think this leaves you in a gray area. To be certain of the tax treatment, I’d recommend spending more time in Florida than in Massachusetts. (If you don’t want to do that, you might want to rethink to which state you want to give your loyalty and taxes — just my two cents.)