How to Change State Residency When Moving

Frank Lanigan
Jun 27, 2022
bullet5 min read

At a glance

Establishing residency in your new state is a top priority for an interstate move for a few reasons, but especially for tax purposes. In most cases, the state you’re moving from will look to continue sending you property and state taxes for as long as possible, so quickly completing your change of residency will save you from dual taxation and headaches down the road.

Changing your state residency is a combination of time spent in your new state and evidence that you live and participate in the economy of your new state. Learn more about changing your residency status so you can live, work, vote, and even attend school in your new state without financial and personal repercussions.


Changing your state residency

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How to change your state residency

It’s important to remember the distinction between simply moving to a new state and establishing residency. Most states require that you establish a domicile, which broadly means that you now spend over half of the year (183 days) in your new state (also referred to as “statutory residency”). Your domicile is the state in which you pay taxes with no current intention of leaving. So while you can sometimes have several residences, you only have one domicile.[1]

Your main focus when establishing residency is to provide official evidence to support your legal domicile claim. Here are some steps to provide proof of residency in your new state.

  • Buy a home or commit to a long-term rental: This is important when trying to prove that you’re spending half the year in your new state. Selling your home in your old state also shows intent to leave the state and establish residency elsewhere. If possible, avoid any short-term rentals in your new state. If you can’t, document your search for a permanent home as much as possible.
  • Set up your utilities: Having utilities in your name shows that you’re the one paying any energy costs in your new home.
  • Change your license and register your vehicle: Visit your state’s DMV or department of transportation website and see the requirements for changing your driving information to your new state.
  • Register to vote in your new state: This may involve canceling voter registration in your old state, but registration can sometimes be transferred over. Check your state’s official voting website for more information.
  • Change your medical and banking locations: Designate a new primary care physician in your area when you arrive. Set up a new bank account or visit a branch in your new state for more information. Be sure to update your billing address on any credit cards as well.
  • Inform the IRS: Taxpayers change their address using Form 8822 to receive any mailed documents without interruption. Begin filing taxes in your new state.
  • Check for Declaration of Domicile forms: Some states use a Declaration of Domicile form to declare you as a legal resident. Check your state’s requirements to see if you’ll need to complete it.
  • Revisit estate planning: Update and check all your wills, powers of attorney, or trusts and ensure that they’re up to date with your new address and within the legal requirements of your new state.
  • Engage in the local economy: When you’re out buying essentials, dining, or enjoying your new areas, try to keep some receipts. They may come in handy as further evidence if your old state challenges you on your new residency.

There are many steps you can take to prove legal residence, but since each state has some key differences, researching your new state’s requirements will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Look at your new state’s government websites and speak with any legal counsel you may have to ensure your old state doesn’t continually tax you.


Reasons for changing state residency

There are several reasons for changing your state residency. For example, you might be moving for a new job or to establish a small business. If establishing a business, it’s important that your business is legally affiliated with the state in which you’re paying taxes.

There are also income tax purposes for changing residency. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming have no income tax.[4] If you’re moving to one of these states, changing your residency will save you money in that area. Some states may also have a lower estate tax than others.

Tuition purposes apply as well. If you’re going to college, in-state tuition can usually only be obtained if you establish residency in the same state as the college or university you’re attending.[2] Sometimes, rules for in-state tuition can be strict, so check with your college or university for details. Additionally, you’ll need to establish residence so your children can access public schools in your new area.


The takeaway

Each state has some degree of nuance to its residency rules, but there are several universal steps you can take to prove your residency in your new state. Sometimes, it can be as simple as living in a place for a certain amount of time and filing taxes, but it can be more involved. While you’re still early in your moving process, research on what you’ll need to establish residence.


FAQ

How long does it take to become a resident?

You’ll most likely need to spend half the year in your new state to be considered a resident. While you may need to file taxes in both states if you had income in your old state during the year, you’ll eventually only need to file them in your new state as long as you have nothing else to claim in your old state.

Can I have residency in more than one state?

While it’s possible to have dual residency, it can create a more difficult process when you’re paying taxes. You’ll need to prove your domicile in the state in which you want to pay and provide evidence through some of the information listed above.

What will happen if I don’t change residency to my new state?

If you don’t change residency, you'll likely need to file taxes in both states. You could also be audited by the IRS. It’s worthwhile to do some planning and pay in the state you call home.

What’s a residency audit?

A residency audit is the process a state may initiate if they need to investigate the circumstances of your move and intent to make your new location your permanent place. [3] You’ll need plenty of evidence to support your domicile in your new state.


Recommended resources

Now that you understand what it takes to change your state residency, learn more about how to get to your new home.

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Sources

  1. JP Morgan, “Changing Your State of Residence.” Accessed June 2022.
  2. Finaid.org, “In-State Tuition and State Residency Requirements.” Accessed June 2022.
  3. Anupam Singhal, Accounting Today, “4 Red Flags That Can Trigger a Residency Audit.” Published June 04, 2019. Accessed June 2022.
Frank Lanigan
Written by
Frank Lanigan
Frank Lanigan is a writer and internationally-published journalist who has over a decade of experience in the moving industry. With thousands of completed moves under his belt, Frank hopes to bring years of experience to Move.org and help readers to navigate moving day with ease.