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Multi State Taxation

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Taxpayers should attempt to establish their business and other economic activities to effectively minimize the income they apportion and allocate to states with high marginal tax rates. Establishing residency determinations are critical to individual income tax planning. State tax laws vary, so residency in one state may not preclude another state from taxing the same income, if the "nondomiciliary" state finds that some (or all) of the income was earned from property located in, or activities taking place, within its borders. This emphasizes why establishing residency is also critical for planning and reporting business activities.

One of the factors that motivates many individuals and businesses to relocate to Washington is the hospitable income tax climate which prevails in the state. Washington imposes no income tax whatsoever on individuals, and more favorable for businesses.  Burton and Associates, CPA, PC can help you evaluate your potential for state income tax savings.

The single most important requirement for a taxpayer to take advantage of Washington's " tax hospitality" is domiciling one's self in the state. In simple terms, this means the individual must make Washington his principal place of residence - his primary home. 

Meeting Residency Requirements

Various factors are considered in determining whether a taxpayer has close ties with a particular state, including:

  • Where you are physically established
  • Where you have sources of income
  • Where you register to vote
  • Where you own a house
  • Where you claim the homeowner's exemption
  • Where your driver's license is issued
  • Where your closest business contacts are, i.e., attorneys, accountants, banks, etc.
  • Where your closest social contacts are, including religious, community and social affiliations (clubs)
  • Where your vehicles are registered
  • Where your minor children attend school, and whether you paid resident or non-resident tuition
  • Which state has jurisdiction in the administration of your wills and trusts
  • Where you obtained a homestead exemption
  • Where you maintain a safety deposit box
  • Where you filed an affidavit of domicile
  • Where you own a cemetery plot

While no factor by itself can positively determine residency, registering to vote or claiming the homeowner's exemption in California, for example, have been found to make the taxpayer a California resident, regardless of the other factors.

Individuals who are "domiciled" in Washington and become Washington residents will generally escape state taxation of their income, except for income arising from sources within another state. Even taxpayers who may continue to have a requirement to "source" one or more items of their income to a taxable state may still enjoy a significant reduction in their overall state tax burden.

Likewise, trusts with Washington fiduciaries can gain a significant tax advantage. In California, for example, trusts with a California fiduciary are taxed on income retained in the trust, even if all beneficiaries are California non-residents. With a Washington fiduciary, non California source income distributed to non California beneficiaries or retained and taxable in the trust, will escape California taxation.

Taxpayers who work and/or reside in more than one state should continually monitor business and other economic activities to minimize effectively the amount of income apportioned and allocated to states with high marginal rates. The issue of state tax residency is complicated, but proper planning, documentation and tax compliance records can save tax dollars.