How Do I Become A Florida Resident?
By: Morris Law Group - February 06, 2015
Three times in the past week alone I have been asked “How do I become a Florida resident?” It is January, which means it is bitter cold in the northeastern parts of the United States. Anyone living in South Florida (and especially in Palm Beach County) knows about the term “season.” We are “in season” from after Thanksgiving until March-April, at which point the air is too humid to handle and people flock back to their other residences up north.
More and more people are looking to come down to Florida for tax benefit purposes. Aside from the creditor protection benefits (i.e. the Florida constitutional homestead protection and exemptions) in Florida, unlike in the majority of the states in the northeast (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, etc.) there is no separate state income tax or state estate/inheritance tax. Florida residents merely pay their taxes based on the federal income and estate tax rates. One of the major gripes by New York residents is that they need to pay not only federal taxes on their income and estates (if they die with a taxable estate), but the State of New York institutes their own income and estate taxes on their residents. This leads to the obvious question, why would anyone NOT want to become a resident of Florida?!
In order to become a resident in Florida, there are certain steps one must take to terminate your residency in the state you are leaving. The following is a checklist for you to use as a guide when making this determination. Please note, it is still a facts and circumstances test and if challenged by your former state of residence, the more steps taken on this list, the more likely that you will be considered a Floridian for residency purposes.
- Spend the majority of the days of the year in Florida.
- File a sworn statement in accordance with F.S. § 222.17 “Declaration of Domicile” showing you reside and maintain a place of abode in a Florida county. Mail a copy of this to the tax authority of former state of residence.
- File a Florida Homestead Declaration.
- File Federal tax returns from your Florida address to the IRS Service Center for Florida residents.
- Obtain a Florida driver's license and registration of motor vehicle.
- Obtain a Florida library card.
- List Florida address on passport.
- Open personal checking and savings accounts in Florida banks.
- Move contents of safe-deposit boxes to Florida banks.
- Register to vote in Florida and cease to be registered to vote in former state of domicile.
- List Florida residence as the primary residence on all homeowners insurance.
- Move valuable tangible personal property to Florida.
- Dispose of the former residence in former state of domicile or remove personal name from tax roles by contributing home to trust or Limited Liability Company.
- Offer former residence for rental during periods of non-use.
- Notify credit card companies and any debtors of new state of residence.
- Cease employment activity in former state of domicile.
- Give up resident fishing and hunting licenses in former state of domicile and obtain non-resident licenses.
- Place dependent children in Florida.
- License pets and animals such as racing horses in Florida.
- Establish religious relationships in Florida, i.e. church and synagogue memberships and change memberships in former state to non-resident status.
- Join Florida social/country clubs and convert prior memberships to non-resident memberships
- Keep a journal and copies of plane tickets and travel reservations in order to keep track of the days you were in Florida.
- When traveling, leave from Florida home and return to Florida home.
- Move professional relationships to Florida practitioners such as attorneys, accountants, dentists and doctors.
- Execute new estate planning documents reciting Florida as the state of residence.
- Execute Florida Advanced Directives such as a living will, designation of health care surrogate, and declaration nominating pre-need guardian.
Once you have made the move mentally, the physical move is not far behind. At Morris Law Group, we advise many families on their decision to relocate here and establish Florida residency. We are able to assist in preparing new estate planning documents and advance directives to comply with the nuances of Florida law. We can also assist you in the possibly restructuring of your non-Florida companies so that you can still maintain income stream from your company registered in your prior state of residency. We will work with counsel in other states to make sure we do not run afoul with said states laws. We welcome the opportunity to assist you on these matters.