Over the past few years, our taxation practice has seen a substantial uptick in New York residents wishing to relocate and change their domicile to Florida. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this migration from New York City to more spacious Florida suburbs. Warm weather is not the only factor drawing New Yorkers to Florida, as most New Yorkers are aware of the substantial tax benefits that come with being a Florida resident (e.g., Florida has no state income or estate tax). While establishing residency under Florida law is simple and straightforward, the real challenge is proving to New York that an individual is no longer a New York domiciliary. Our article will provide an overview of domicile under Florida and New York law, and explore the factors necessary to relinquish domicile in New York and effectively become a Florida resident (as reviewed by the tax authorities in New York).
Florida law provides that a person’s “domicile” is the place where he or she has fixed an abode with the present intention of making it his or her permanent home. Florida law further provides that a person’s domicile is determined by his or her intent, as established by a contemporaneous expression of intent and positive overt acts proving intent. Individuals who have moved to Florida can take the following actions to seek to establish their intent to make Florida their home:
• Own or rent residential property in Florida. If the home is owned, apply for the Florida homestead exemption in the county of residence. The Florida homestead exemption provides asset protection benefits to homeowners and a reduction in property taxes, and also serves as great evidence in support of Florida residency.
• File a “Declaration of Domicile” with the circuit court in the Florida county of residence.
• Obtain a Florida driver’s license, acquire Florida automobile insurance, and register vehicles in Florida.
• Register to vote in Florida and cancel voter registration in New York.
• Update records with all financial institutions, employers, credit card companies, brokers life insurance companies and clubs to reflect the Florida address.
• Prepare and execute new estate planning documents (e.g., wills, revocable trusts and advance directives) that are governed by Florida law.
• Consider establishing personal and business banking relationships in Florida and paying personal bills through a Florida bank account. Contents of safe deposit boxes in New York should be emptied and stored in new safe deposit boxes in Florida.
• Change your status to “non-resident” with out-of-state country clubs and religious affiliations.
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