We get this question a lot. Maybe it’s that winter seems to last for 8 months here in the Northeast? Maybe it’s that Florida doesn’t have a state income tax? Regardless of the motivation, it seems that a good number of Connecticut residents are interested in relocating their domicile.
To preface, a person’s “legal domicile” is his or her permanent home. It is not only where a person lives, but also where a person is taxed and has certain rights or privileges based on the laws of the applicable state. To establish Florida as a state of domicile, there are several simple straight forward steps that will help demonstrate your intent:
– Establish a home in Florida (typically purchased, but possibly rented);
– If the Florida home is purchased, apply for the Florida homestead property exemption;
– File a Florida Declaration of Domicile
– Replace your Connecticut driver’s license with a Florida driver’s license;
– Register your vehicle(s) in Florida;
– Register to vote in Florida;
– File a “FINAL” State Income Tax Return in Connecticut and if you still have Connecticut income, begin filing a Non-Resident Return;
– Update your address with the Social Security Administration;
– Open at least one Florida bank account;
– Update your estate planning documents (will, trust, power of attorney and health care documents) to Florida documents;
– If you require a license for your chosen profession, update that license to Florida; and
– If you belong to a church, recreational clubs or political organizations in Connecticut, establish new similar memberships in Florida (and whenever possible, terminate membership in the Connecticut organization);
– obtain a local library card.
Snowbirds and Anyone Keeping CT Real Estate Need to Track Their Time
Keep in mind, that the process of establishing residency becomes more complicated for “snowbirds” (people that spend winters in Florida and summers in Connecticut). This is because there will be no clear time break between your residency in Connecticut and residency in Florida. Cars might stay registered here. Real estate might still be owned here. Property taxes are still paid here.
For snowbirds, it is critical that you track your time and KEEP those records. For every year that you do NOT want to be considered a Connecticut resident, you will need to be able to demonstrate whether you were in Connecticut or Florida for each of the 365 calendar days of those years. Keep a “residence file” so that you know where to look if asked to produce this information.
If You Die Still Owning CT Real Estate
If you pass away while still owning Connecticut real estate, your family will need to obtain a Release of Estate Tax Liens for any Connecticut real estate that has your name on it. This includes property owned jointly with rights of survivorship, and property owned in a trust. When someone dies owning Connecticut real estate (even through a trust) that real estate cannot be sold, transferred to a new owner, or even refinanced until the State of Connecticut issues a Release confirming that the decedent did not owe any estate tax to the State of Connecticut. This return must be filed even if the decedent resided out of state at the time of death. The filing requirements for non-residents are MUCH less onerous than for residents. Accordingly, a non-resident return must be accompanied by a Form C-3 UGE (State of Connecticut Domicile Declaration) which will request all the information discussed above. If the Domicile Declaration is incomplete, or unconvincing, the State of Connecticut will take the position that the decedent should be taxed as a Connecticut resident, rather than as a resident of Florida.
If you are contemplating a move to Florida or have already moved and are unsure of the steps to change your domicile, Paul Sullivan is licensed to practice in Florida, and can assist you with this process.