Just visiting for tax purposes?
June 4, 2009 6:39 AM   Subscribe

My friend's mother has lived in Florida for over 20 years in a home that she owns outright. Three years ago her mother moved to a different state so she could live in an independent-living facility near her daughter. She kept her house in Florida, she paid all applicable Florida property and income taxes, and she voted absentee in Florida. Her income comes from Social Security, a pension and investments. My question is, should her mother be paying taxes in the state that she is living in now? Also, when she dies, should her estate be managed as though she had lived the last years of her life in Florida?
posted by retiree to Law & Government (5 answers total)
This is a question that is almost certainly best answered by a CPA (how have her taxes been filed the last 3 years?) and/or an tax/estate planning lawyer.
posted by misterbrandt at 7:46 AM on June 4, 2009

I can't answer legally aside from the fact that most states require you to live (reside) at least 180 days within the state in order to be considered a "resident."

Ethically speaking, she should be paying taxes to the state in which she lives, as she is using/relying upon local and state services. The local police, fire department, etc. are working to protect people like her, and thus she ought to be paying into the system. With regard to her property in Florida, she pays the property taxes, and that is all that is ethically required of her. Her Florida residence is now effectively her "vacation home."
posted by explosion at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2009

Your friend's mother may owe taxes in the state in which she currently resides as well as in Florida, but it would take a fair bit of research to find out for sure. Tax authorities consider several factors in determining your "domicile" (your home for tax purposes).

I'm an advanced accounting student enrolled in an estate & gift tax class right now, and I'm learning that the laws are more complex than I thought. I encourage you to consult with a professional, especially for estate planning.

That said, you can certainly start by doing some basic research on your own. Try the Nolo Press book Plan Your Estate. You can check State Tax Central for links to appropriate state authorities, and here (note: PDF) is a cautionary tale - a description of a case where someone who maintained a home in Florida while living in New York ended up owing state & local income taxes in NY.

(IAAA, IANYA, this is not professional advice.)
posted by velvet winter at 11:05 AM on June 4, 2009

Rose Kennedy managed to have her estate probated in Florida even though she was a resident of MA. Or should I say Ted had it done...
posted by Gungho at 1:54 PM on June 4, 2009

Florida doesn't have a personal income tax, so at least you don't have to worry about owing anything on that particular front.
posted by oaf at 6:07 AM on June 8, 2009

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