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How to change your Domicile when you full time RV


Medico

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Sorry for the long post. I was asked to document the process I used for us to change our domicile, in our case, to Florida.

 

Many RVers would like to become Full Time in this wonderful lifestyle, but are concerned with the necessary steps to change their state of Domicile after they have done so. I am showing the steps we took to change our Domicile from New York State to Florida. Remember Domicile is different from Residence. Domicile is the state where you have your official home, whereas Residence is where you are presently staying.

 

When we do become full time, many of us look at where we are presently Domiciled and consider a Change of Domicile for several reasons, the primary are financial (there are no state income taxes in several states) and weather (for those of you who lived through the Polar Vortex of 2013-2014 anywhere north of Florida this should be self-explanatory.) There are other reasons as well, but these two seem to be the most widely quoted.

 

These are the steps my wife and I took when we changed our Domicile from New York to Florida. Please note that the first steps occurred prior to actually moving to Florida:

 

In our case we decided to break from NY altogether so we sold our home shortly after we purchased our coach. This step included divesting ourselves of most of the “stuff” we had accumulated through the years.

 

A couple of months before our actual move south, we set up a mail forwarding service in Florida. We chose St. Brendan’s Isle in Green Cove Springs, Florida. This step serves two purposes, it gives you a service where all your mail may be sent, which is then forwarded to you, and it gives you a physical address which you will subsequently use for your domicile. This is important in the process. We could also then satisfy ourselves that the mail forwarding system works well.

 

During this whole process we were also changing everything over from physical to digital, all our subscriptions became digital subscriptions (magazines, etc.), all our bills are paid online through our bank, etc. Everything you can think to change, do so. I also changed my mailing address with the NYS DMV to our new official mailing address.

 

See your doctors and dentists before you leave. Get new prescriptions from your doctor for all your maintenance medications.

 

Once we actually arrived in Florida, much of the real work began. The St. Brendan’s Isle service has all the forms you need on their web site. In addition, the mailing address is associated with an actual physical address. Florida, and most other states, requires you to have an actual physical address to declare it as your Domicile and to get your Driver’s License.

 

We went to the nearest Florida DMV/Tax Collector (yes, they are in the same office) and obtained our Florida Driver’s License. Before you go be sure to take everything you will need with you:

  • Two items which show your new address, they prefer items mailed to you from a financial institution, governmental agency or Utilities showing your Florida address. My wife had forms mailed to her from the NYS Comptroller (her pension) and from the NYS Civil Service dept. I had forms from the Social Security Administration and a pay stub from my Worker’s Compensation carrier. All these have to show your Florida address.
  • You also need to bring all the following:
  1. Social Security cards
  2. Birth Certificates
  3. Previous state driver’s license
  4. In my wife’s case proof of name change (marriage certificate)

If you do not bring these items with you then don’t bother going until you have all of them. The total cost was $108 for us ($54 each). The licenses are good for 8 years. The license is printed as you wait for it. No waiting for it to arrive in the mail.

 

Next we had to file a Declaration of Domicile form with the County Clerk in Clay County, Florida. This is where Green Cove Springs is located. This form (available on the St. Brendan’s Isle web site) must be notarized. This became our first and only stumbling block! Our banking is done with our investment bank in NY. We do not have an account with a Florida bank. It is sometimes not easy to find a Notary Public to witness your signature. We were turned down at one bank, and ultimately discovered a branch of our investment bank in Ocala, Florida where we are staying. Send these notarized forms along with $10 each to the County Clerk. They will be recorded and sent back with a stamp from the Court Clerk.

 

Before registering our vehicles we had to obtain Florida insurance policies. In NY we had a combined policy from one company covering both vehicles. We found that in Florida, RV insurance companies are NOT the best for insuring your toad. We had to split the two vehicles and still ended up paying about $700 more per year, Darn!

 

In Florida a VIN number verification must be done for all new Florida registrations. It is not practical to take the coach to the DMV office, but the DMV provided a form that we could have signed by a deputy sheriff to verify the VIN number. Of course the towed can be done at the office. The sheriff’s dept. was more than happy to send a deputy to our site for this purpose.

 

We then registered both vehicles we had to pay a transfer fee of $225 per vehicle plus the first year registration fee. I also obtained a form (supplied by the DMV office) for my doctor to sign to allow me to obtain a handicapped person plate for my towed. Our NYS plates were then mailed certified to the NYS DMV for refunds.

 

This seems like an involved process, but remember you are most likely retired and have the time. The only real problem we encountered was finding a Notary Public. It did take a little planning, and some running around.

 

This was the process in Florida. I would believe for the most part, the process is similar in many states. The three most mentioned states for FT’ers seem to be Florida, South Dakota and Texas.

 

Good Luck! Do not be intimidated by the process. Just take it one step at a time!

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That is a pretty good listing but, it is not the same in all states so parts may not apply. For a move to FL it looks pretty complete to me, but I've never moved there. :) Did you take any actions to break with NY so that they do not anticipate receiving an income tax return from you in the future? Many who make the move from CA or AZ have reported that filing a partial year as soon as they move seems to help avoid problems with those states cropping up later. It might be useful if someone were to post some of the differences with a similar move to TX and/or SD.

 

I suggest that a more complete explanation of what domicile means can be found by reading this article which was published in Escapee's Magazine about domicile.Domicile is actually a term of the courts and not one of law and basically means the place where you do your activities associated with daily life. It is very simple for one who lives in a stick house in one set location but can become quite complicated for those of us who live on the road, especially if we retain any ties with our former state of domicile.

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Next we had to file a Declaration of Domicile form with the County Clerk in Clay County, Florida. This is where Green Cove Springs is located. This form (available on the St. Brendan’s Isle web site) must be notarized. This became our first and only stumbling block! Our banking is done with our investment bank in NY. We do not have an account with a Florida bank. It is sometimes not easy to find a Notary Public to witness your signature. We were turned down at one bank, and ultimately discovered a branch of our investment bank in Ocala, Florida where we are staying. Send these notarized forms along with $10 each to the County Clerk. They will be recorded and sent back with a stamp from the Court Clerk.

 

Banks are a real hassle for notary stamps, but I have found it quite easy in Florida to find a notary if you know where to look. Walk into any Real Estate Title Office with a smile and a ten dollar bill and you'll get your document notarized - most won't even take the $10. Alternatively, if there's an insurance office for your home, auto, life, or whatever insurance company in your town, you can usually walk in and ask for a quick favor.

 

I think bank employees' notary stamps are paid for by the bank they work for and they are instructed not to do anything that isn't related to bank business, and especially not to do anything for someone who isn't a customer of that bank.

 

Some notaries, especially bank notaries and government employee notaries think it's their job to know the details of the document they are notarizing, and it's not. The job of a notary is to check IDs and notarize the validity of the signature and that's it. The contents of the document is not and should not be any of their business. If a notary wants to scrutinize what they are notarizing take your documents, leave, and find someone else who knows the limits of their duty as a notary. This is the main reason I avoid banks and government offices for notary stamps.

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I currently receive a paycheck from Wisconsin, have someone else living in my home there and have farm land that is rented in north Dakota but live most of my time on the road working via computer and volunteering. If I need to change my domicile in order to obtain health insurance or other reason is it possible to claim a different domicile than Wisconsin? I know many people live in a neighboring state and work in another and file income taxes accordingly.

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You can own property in all fifty states but can have only one domicile. If you rent out your house in Wisconsin it is just income property, pay any taxes on the rental income and Wisconsin will be happy. Your domicile is by choice, we moved ours to SD because of the hassle with vehicles registered in a clean air area and other minor but annoying issues. We owned a house in Illinois and property in Kentucky. We set up a mail forwarding address, stopped by the courthouse registered our vehicles in SD, went to the DMV got our new DL's, filed a part year resident income tax form in IL and we were done.

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The paycheck is the only issue I see, do they require you to be a resident to keep the job? What are the state rules in income tax, do you owe them tax onincome from that job even if you live out of state?

 

Been here. Done this. If you live in one state and work in another, you may owe state taxes to the state you work in depending on the state, on the amount of income you earn in that state, how long you work in that state, and to which state your employer reports your income.

 

One company I worked for was out of Washington state, I lived in Florida, and I worked in several other states during my tenure there. My company could have reported my income to Washington, to Florida, or made things complicated and reported it to each and every state that I landed in. They kept it simple for me (and for them) and reported my income to Florida only. So, whether or not I was technically obligated to pay other states' income taxes, none of my income was reported there and therefore they really never knew I was working in their state.

 

Interestingly, DC only charges income tax to its residents. If you work in DC and live in Virginia, for instance, you are exempt from DC taxes. You can probably thank our Congressmen for hosing DC residents and letting everyone else off the hook - after all, most of them live in VA and not DC. God forbid high ranking government officials would have to pay DC local taxes! I'm not sure if any of the states have this same rule, but you are definitely under purview of both state's laws. Hopefully your home state gives you a break on income earned in other states. Fortunately, I am a Florida resident and so I only had to worry about other state's taxes.

 

If you live near a state border and you get a regular 9-5 job just on the other side of the border, I'd check the laws of both states to make sure that only one of those states gets your money, assuming you are in two adjacent states with income taxes. My situation was different than this. I was a remote employee flying wherever they asked me to go, and my official office was "work from home in Florida".

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The paycheck is the only issue I see, do they require you to be a resident to keep the job?

 

Been here. Done this. If you live in one state and work in another, you may owe state taxes to the state you work in depending on the state, on the amount of income you earn in that state, how long you work in that state, and to which state your employer reports your income.

Teri,

I have done a lot of research on related issues and both of these responses are valid. You probably owe taxes to WI for the income generated there, depending upon the laws there. Like "travelrider" I too worked for a company located in a different state from where I resided and I did so for 32 years, residing in three different state none of which were that where my paycheck was issued. But in each case the employer reported my earning as being in the my state of residence and that determined my tax liability.

 

You will also have a tax liability for the rental income from each property to the state where that property is located, and you should be reporting the ND income to them now. Changing your domicile should not be a problem so long as you are not physically in either of those states.

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So far I have no problems from NY. I mailed the plates back to NYS DMV and so far they have not shown up as returned. I expect it may take them a while to do so as plates from all over the state are send to the same office ultimately. My Declaration of Domicile has been recorded by the County Clerk in Clay County, Florida and they returned a sealed copy to me for our records. I also registered to vote and have received voter information from the Supervisor of Elections in Clay County, Florida.

 

I will be filing my NYS tax return for 2013 as I legally spent the entire year there. NYS requires a return for anyone spending more than 180 days as a resident of NYS, I believe. Since we could not leave NY until after my wife retired at the end of Sept., we had no choice in that.

 

I am not anticipating any problems, but if any occur I will post back.

 

I guess I should have mentioned that the steps may be slightly different for each state. I was going to, but evidently forgot to. I must have hit a rusty section of my steel trap brain, LOL.

 

As far as our insurance, we have insurance through my wife's employment with NYS at a state university. We did change the insurance plan to a plan that is accepted, as far as we know, nation wide. This was the plan suggested by the retirement specialists at her job. In December this year I will go on Medicare. At that time our present insurance becomes my supplementary insurance. We have already investigated this with those same specialists. I started on SSD effective December, 2012. The rules are after 2 years I will automatically be enrolled in Medicare.

 

I guess as time goes on we might find some stumbling blocks, but we will cross these as we find them. My intention here was to outline the steps we took so others can see that this is entirely doable. Don't shy away simply because it seems hard to accomplish. We basically did everything, other than those couple of things we started while still in NY, in about 3 weeks. Being official residents of Florida allows us to homestead if we ever do buy property here, even a site at an RV Resort, thus cutting property taxes in half.

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Moving your domicile to TX it is also pretty easily accomplished. While there are other things that might be a good idea, the basics are pretty simple and you can get a guide for it by downloading a copy of How to Become a Real Texan from Escapees. They have been doing this for a long time and know the steps and the folks in Polk County, TX are also very used to this and can/will answer any questions you might have.

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Just a couple of additions to the OP; again this about changing domicile to FL.

You can register to vote at the same time you get your drivers license. We had everything listed ready and took us one afternoon to get it all done including registering MH and car. . Woke up in the morning a Hoosier and went to bed a Floridian.

Also, when you change your domicile you will most likely need to create a new Last Will andTestament, Durable Power Of Attorney, Living Will, and Health Care Surrogate. Since we had all our copies from Indiana it didn't take long for an attorney to make the new Florida versions.

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Yes we could have registered when we got our licenses and registered to vote then as well. Unfortunately, I did not have the form I needed my PMD to sign for the disabled plates for the toad until after my first visit to the DMV, so I had to wait to send that to my PMD and get him to return it. He was very responsive but it did take some time. I also did not have the VIN verification form yet. There was no way I would have gotten my coach in the plaza where the DMV I used was located.

 

Also I was getting my driver's license in a different county (we are presently in Marion County) than Clay County where my physical address is located (This is where our mail forwarding service is located) the people at the DMV suggested I would be better off registering to vote there although they did originally offer this service as well. This just involved going online, filling out a form, printing it, signing it and sending it to the Supervisor of Elections in Clay County.

 

So from our perspective it just was a little easier for us to do it the way we did, but for someone else, Selah for example, it can easily be done in one day. I did not mean to insinuate that it takes this long. It was a relatively easy process that we decided to extend out due to our situation.

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Thank you for the addition. It does sound like the process in SD is similar to Florida. An obvious difference is the residence requirement. Florida does require some proof of your resident address by requiring some form of mail with your name and address shown (2 forms). This is more stringent than a receipt from an RV Resort (Park).

 

The proof of ID requirements are set to meet Dept. of Homeland Security requirements and I suspect all states will be requiring this, if not now then at some point in time. This is very similar to the NYS Enhanced Driver's License requirement.

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One downside of Florida, while we're comparing domiciles, is that Florida uses driver licenses to pick jury pools. I don't know what I will do if I'm all the way across the country with no plans to return for several months and receive a jury summons. You can delay a jury summons but getting out of it entirely is altogether a different matter.

 

I don't know what SD or TX use, but if it's a list you can avoid being listed on, it's a small check mark in favor of those states. If you have a FL DL there's no getting your name off the jury list.

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I don't know what SD or TX use, but if it's a list you can avoid being listed on, it's a small check mark in favor of those states. If you have a FL DL there's no getting your name off the jury list.

In TX jury calls also come from driver's license lists as well as voter registration roles, combined. But in Polk Co. where Escapee's are located it is just a matter of calling when you get a summons and let them know that you are a fulltimer and on the road and they drop you from the pool and usually say "have a nice trip." :D

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"Best " is relative to your circumstances. The main issue for us and SD has ALWAYS been health insurance. Previous to the ACA health insurance for me in SD was limited, and cost significantly more than TX for a lesser policy. Since the advent of the ACA health insurance for fulltimers in SD is not available. At all. So while it may be "best" for someone else, it is simply a "non-starter" for us.

 

All of which points out that while there may be "generalizations" about "good states" for fulltimers there are no definitive answers. Each individual has to figure what meets THEIR needs best.

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