Becoming a Florida Resident.
One’s state of domicile has important tax consequences, both with state income taxes and with state estate (death and inheritance) taxes. Florida readily welcomes a new resident (and the resulting benefits to the state). The former state, however, often finds it difficult to recognize that the resident has abandoned it in favor of Florida. There is no absolute list of "magic steps" which guarantees that the former state will acknowledge that a person is no longer a resident. Some of the acts, however, which may convince the former state are as follows:
- Obtain a Florida driver’s license, and surrender the former state’s driver license (required by Florida law).
- Change vehicle registration and plates to Florida, surrendering the former state registration and plates (required by Florida law).
- File with the Florida county property appraiser a claim of homestead exemption from ad valorem real property taxes on the principal Florida residence. NOTE: The exemption is available if the property was homestead property as of January 1.
- Record in the Florida county of residence, a declaration of domicile affidavit. Send a copy of the recorded document to the Department of Revenue of the former state.
- Register to vote in Florida, and cancel voter registration in the former state.
- File personal federal income and gift tax returns with the IRS Center in Atlanta, as a Florida resident with a Florida address.
- File the final state income tax return with the former state, containing a notation that it is a final return and the fact of Florida domicile.
- Recite a Florida address in all forms and documents that require a recital of residence, such as passports, contracts, deeds, leases, credit applications and hotel registrations.
- Recite a Florida address in all published directories.
- Notify all mailers, such as subscriptions, clubs, organizations, credit card grantors, and those who may owe money to you, such as insurance companies, annuities, and employee benefit plans, about your new Florida address.
- Notify all former state social and religious organizations of the change of domicile, and change the memberships from resident to non-resident, if the alternative is available.
- Join local Florida social and religious organizations.
- Engage Florida professionals, such as physicians, dentists, accountants, attorneys, and bankers, when feasible. Retain the former state professionals and account relationships only when there is a rational reason to do so despite the geographical disparity.
- Transfer safety deposit box contents from the former state to Florida.
- Review your last will and testament for compliance with Florida law, and recite Florida as the domicile in any subsequent modification.
- Do not engage in casual conversations that indicate to friends, acquaintances, or business associates that Florida residency is merely a ploy to reduce taxes.
While it is not necessary for full compliance with the foregoing schedule, if there is any concern that the former state may refuse to recognize your change of status, full compliance is in your best interest. Further, there are two other points to consider.
- It is preferable that you minimize your physical presence and contact with your former state. Simply, papers may say what they say, but if you actually spend a major share of time in the former state, the former state may challenge your Florida residency.
- Continued ownership of, and "part-time" residency at your former state residence suggests that your domicile has not actually changed.