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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced a number of reforms, including a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, which have caused Americans to look into establishing legal primary residences in states where they can limit their liabilities.
But some states give taxpayers a hard time when they are trying to change their domicile – thereby establishing their permanent residency elsewhere.
“California … they don’t particularly like when people that were large taxpayers … leave,” Marc Minker, lead managing director at accounting provider and consulting firm CBIZ MHM, told FOX Business. “The state becomes very aggressive with respect to making you prove that you essentially changed your domicile.”
Changing a domicile requires an individual to physically move with the intent to stay either permanently or indefinitely. The state of domicile determines your income, estate and other taxes.
Even when you change your domicile, that is not always enough, Minker added. If you own a property in the old state, you must be able to prove that you resided in the new domicile for more than 183 days out of the year.
In addition to California, Minker said New York is “equally aggressive,” as are New Jersey, Connecticut and Ohio, among others.
Lance Christensen, a partner at accounting firm Margolin Winer & Evens, agreed that New York State and New York City are aggressive when it comes to allowing taxpayers to leave. He said individuals must be ready to “withstand New York State and New York City challenges.”
To prove where they were throughout the year, Christensen recommends people keep a detailed diary. He also told FOX Business taxpayers should keep items like receipts, plane tickets – even EZ pass receipts.
“The burden of proof is on the taxpayer to prove where he is, or she is, and it can be very close,” Christensen said. “We’ve seen this come down to where your pet is.”
He added that taxpayers should make sure they have thoroughly planned and are prepared for the move, adding for some clients with a lot of taxable income during a certain year it may be cheaper to take a trip around the world than it would be to return to New York and be hit with those taxes.
Christensen has seen an increasing number of people in New York looking to domicile in Florida as a consequence of the new tax law – which he says is especially common among people who already have a second home there.
As previously reported by FOX Business, while Florida received more movers than any other state last year, New York's outflows to the Sunshine State were the highest – 63,772 people. New York had the third-largest outflows of any state, with 452,580 people moving out within the past year. California, another high-tax state, had the largest outflow of domestic residents – with the highest proportion of people headed to Texas, Arizona and Washington. Washington and Texas collect no state income tax.
New York was found to have the highest state and local tax burden of any of the 50 states, with the average individual paying nearly 13 percent of income toward those obligations.
President Trump said last month that residents were “fleeing” New York over high taxes, which he suggested were “oppressive.”