What a pain.
January 19, 2010 6:19 PM   Subscribe

I moved from WA to OR. What kind of bureaucratic stuff do I need to do, and what can I get out of?

I've recently (September) moved a couple miles from Vancouver, WA to Portland OR. I'm an undergraduate living on-campus at a school here now. Does the fact that I'm "here for school" (just happened to coincide, though, really.) affect things at all?

I've set up USPS mail forwarding so I get mail, and then I registered to vote here because there's more interesting things to vote on here. I voted on a couple measures last week. That's all I've done so far involving me, the government, and my new address.

My address in WA is my parent's place, and still works, and I still consider that my "permanent address". I didn't even consider until a few hours ago that I might have address-change responsibilities or might be breaking rules by not really filling out any kind of paperwork when I moved.

Really, my concerns here are less on what my strictest legal responsibilities are have more to do avoiding realistic chances of bad things happening to me.

Areas I'm concerned about:

Drivers license: Can I keep my WA drivers license with the old (working) address? It doesn't expire for a while, I'd like to not pay oregon money if I don't have to.

Car: I brought a car along with me. Do I need to reregister it here? I'd prefer not doing that.

Taxes: I work for the same clients I used to work for when I lived in WA. I am self-employed and do web development over the internet. I REALLY REALLY REALLY do not want to now be somebody that works in Oregon. They have state income tax, WA does not.

I'm thinking of signing up for food stamps, it looks like I qualify as far as money goes. School has left me pretty destitute. Will they need a OR drivers license? Any other implications?

Was I allowed to vote? Can I get into trouble for that? I got my ballot in the mail for washington stuff and I didn't vote there, I trashed it.

What else might I have forgotten? I know I should have thought of this stuff
earlier, but because my school doesn't consider me an oregon resident, I guess I
haven't either. How far do you think acting like a dumb kid that didn't even know there was such thing as state boundaries get me if Uncle Sam gets mad?

You can mail me: M8R-ra7jnj@mailinator.com.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Driver's license: This is anecdotal, bu I know plenty of graduate students who moved from out of state, and for all intents and purposes live in Pennsylvania (my current state) and only go to their parents' home at the holidays. Some of these people have out of state drivers' licenses. I have never heard of a story where this caused them a problem, other than really annoying bartenders being suspicious about out-of-state identification.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:02 PM on January 19, 2010

Although sometimes these people have had to renew their driver's licenses and are annoyed that they can only do it when they go home. It sounds like you wouldn't have that problem, because you are only a couple miles from Washington.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:09 PM on January 19, 2010

According to this page on the Oregon state DMV, it appears that Oregon requires an in-state license and registration once you establish residency, where the rough guideline appears to be staying in Oregon for six consecutive months. Compare this to Washington state where residency is established after 30 days. Additionally, you can also establish residency if you "engage in gainful employment" in Oregon or if you declare your residency to be in Oregon for the purposes of getting in-state tuition (ORS 807.062). The latter isn't issue (if I interpret "my school doesn't consider me an oregon resident" correctly) but the former might depending on how your self-employment is treated (e.g.: is it gainful employment? does it actually occur in Oregon?).

I have no information about how strict Oregon really is about such things, but I have heard of cases where people in Washington state get ticketed for not having an in-state license/registration. Usually (always?) this occurs in the course of a separate infraction (e.g.: you get pulled over for speeding, cop notices your out-of-state license/plates, asks how long you've been in WA, and now he's writing two tickets instead of one). However, given how stringent the Oregon requirement is (remaining in the state for six consecutive months), I bet it'd be pretty easy to claim that you're not actually a resident.

One other interesting bit of data: The tone of the FAQs on the page I linked above seems to suggest that people actually want to register in Oregon (e.g.: "Will I be required to submit proof to DMV that I am an Oregon resident?", "What will happen if [...] DMV finds out that I am not a resident or domiciled? "). I wonder what that's about? Does this mean that they would actually prefer that you don't register in Oregon?
posted by mhum at 7:31 PM on January 19, 2010

Wait, spoke too soon, there is a specific exemption for the "gainful employment" criteria (ORS 807.062(5)):
Notwithstanding subsection (4) of this section, a person who is gainfully employed in this state shall not be considered a resident of the state if the person has taken no other steps to become a resident. This section applies, but is not limited to, a student at an educational institution maintained by public funds who is paying nonresident tuition rates.
There's similar language in ORS 803.200(4). In other words, to me it looks like you're in the clear. Of course, IANAL, this is not legal advice, etc... Speaking of which, it's possible that your school has a free legal aid clinic (emphasis on "free") that would be able to answer definitively one way or another.
posted by mhum at 7:38 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, I should be clear: the stuff I linked to applies only to residency requirements for driver's license and vehicle registration, which probably differs from the residency requirements for tax and voting.
posted by mhum at 7:42 PM on January 19, 2010

As to the income tax, if you work in Oregon you pay Oregon income tax even if you're not a resident. People who live in Vancouver and commute to Portland every day have Oregon income tax withheld and have to file Oregon income tax returns every year. (And no, they don't get it all back. They pay the same as a resident.)

If you are self-employed, you are required to file (and pay) quarterly. If you don't, you could face jail time. It doesn't matter what your drivers license says or where your clients are located. If you do the work inside Oregon, you pay Oregon taxes.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:18 PM on January 19, 2010

I did a similar thing a few years ago. I moved from Washington to Portland sort of part time, and then eventually moved into an apartment downtown. I kept my Washington license until it expired, and then I got an Oregon one. That was easy- I think maybe I had to take a basic test (not a driving test). I drove the car regardless of where I was staying until I moved into the apartment- then since parking downtown is expensive I stopped driving and left the car in Washington. My main thought there was that it was probably better if the license plate/registration state and the drivers license state matched. Even then, if the car is registered to a parent, I've always had a feeling that you could get away with a difference of neighboring states like that.

Can't help you with the rest. I stayed in Portland, but I remember there was one transition year where I received ballots for both states. I did the same, threw away the Washington one and voted in Portland. I didn't really stress over the details of changing states, and I didn't suffer for it.
posted by Secretariat at 10:58 PM on January 19, 2010

I had to have the terms of my car insurance adjusted slightly when I moved to Oregon from Kansas. Even though I have full coverage, Oregon apparently requires some additional coverage that some other states do not. The price was not affected (actually, it dropped significantly because I had just turned 25). I wouldn't have known except that it was time to renew and the agent informed me when I told her I was now living in Oregon. I don't remember the specific coverages added. Having a claim denied because of some weird state-specific technicality would suck.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 11:43 AM on January 20, 2010

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