Establishing Florida Residency

If you’ve been thinking about making Florida home, you’re not alone. Many former residents of high tax states have made Florida their official residence in the last few years spurred on by more flexible work environments and Florida’s no income tax structure. In 2017 Congress passed a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, making Florida increasingly appealing.

Departing a high-tax state and successfully becoming a Florida resident requires several different steps. High-tax states don’t want to give up the revenue and audits are not uncommon in your first year as a Florida resident.  Here are five tips for navigating the process:

The 183 Day Rule (or Six Months and a Day)

To be considered a statutory resident and taxed as a resident of Florida, you must not only have spent 183 days there during the year, but must also declare Florida your primary residence and “permanent place of abode.”  Be wary of spending too much time in your previous income tax state even if you return for family, business, or other reasons. Auditors recommend that for every one day spent in your previous state, you try to double this amount in Florida with 183 days as the bare minimum.

Document Your Home is in Florida

  • Use a Florida address on all legal paperwork, including tax returns
  • Save receipts and document moving expenses to Florida
  • Record a Declaration of Domicile in the county in which you live and be sure to pay all applicable property taxes
  • Take advantage of the Florida homestead tax exemption, which is another benefit to living in the state

Document Your Lifestyle is in Florida

  • Obtain a Florida driver’s license and register to vote in Florida
  • Ensure all vehicles have Florida tags
  • Find a primary doctor and dentist in Florida
  • Obtain a veterinarian for your pet in Florida as well.
  • Document that minor children are enrolled in school in Florida
  • Show that you and your spouse spend weekends together in Florida, even with busy travel schedules 

Document that Valuables are in Florida

  • The majority of items you “hold dear” ranging from treasured heirlooms to family photos, artwork and jewelry should be physically in Florida and noted on an insurance form

Your Business

  • Another test auditors look for is the ability to demonstrate that your business is headquartered in Florida or at least that the bulk of your work is completed in Florida – even if it’s in a home office

While these are a few pro-tips, we always recommend consulting with your accountant and/or financial planner with any questions and to get the latest guidance.