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Registering a purchased vehicle in Texas that's out of state (reality check)


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First, I know questions like these are asked all the time, but I really need a reality check from the folks who know:

We just purchased a used RV. Took out-of-state delivery so we have not paid sales tax yet, and have a temp AZ registration on it. Have not yet established domicile in TX, but have a driver license appointment for me and my spouse in mid February.

We were originally planning on driving from where we currently reside (San Diego, CA for another couple of months) to Livingston, but as it turns out the logistics are problematic and it would be much easier if we can just fly in and register our vehicles, get the driver license, and finalize everything else for domicile without having our vehicles (new-to-us MH and our toad) there. So, for those in the know, please let me know if the following makes sense:

1) Move our bank accounts, vehicle insurances, and perhaps our Dish for the RV in Livingston

2) Bring all our documents to Livingston. (BTW, what forms can/should we download and fill out for the registration/driver license/etc. before we get there?)

3) Register our vehicles perhaps the day before our license appointments (do I need to get the MH weighed? Will a weight from California work?)

4) Pass the written driver test for the CDL B Exempt, and schedule a driver test

5) When the driver test date shows up, go to the appropriate branch (in my case, El Paso is closest) but get the vehicle inspected in TX before the appointment.

6) What am I forgetting? 

Thank you for your guidance. I'm freaking out a bit about this. 

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First of all, welcome to the Escapees RV Club and to the forums! We are happy to have you here with us.

The first thing to do is to visit the TX Domicile information on the club member website. If you have not done so, the first thing is to set up an address with the mail service. You will not be able to do any of the other things if you have not already done that. If you have done then, next you should call the Polk Co. Tax office (936) 327-6801) and discuss with them what you wish to do. They are very familiar with Escapee members taking up domicile and registering vehicles and are always happy to help. Remember that you will also have to pay your TX sales tax at the time of registration. You can download a copy of the driver's license application from this link. For current information about getting your license appointment you can visit the office online or you can call them at  (936) 327-6806.

Let us know what else you would like help with and how your progress is going. It is important to keep in mind that office services are not recovered from the covid-19 changes so things will probably not be as convenient as they once were. 

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Thanks, Kirk. I was smart enough to get our address already, so that's covered 🙂 And have the taxes in the bank to pay TX (rather our new home have the money than our old one). I will call the Polk County Tax Office and discuss my questions--thank you so much for that! 

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We did similar.  We were already Texas residents, and members of Escapees.  (We signed up just prior to our purchase.)

We bought used from a private seller in California.  We flew out to LAX then Uber'ed down to Anaheim for the pickup.  By then, all the financial paperwork was complete.  We had obtained insurance on the truck and fifth wheel prior to the flight.

When we returned, we went to our home area in Dallas.  We drove down to Livingston, not realizing the offices were Covid-closed.  Later, we were able to do most things by email with the Polk County Tax Assessor's office, though we had to mail (we used certified mail, return receipt!) all the documents and cashier's checks.  Among the things required, prior to registration, however, was getting Texas inspections.  I don't think, for the initial inspections, you can get out of that.  (Later, at renewal time, you can just say "my vehicle is out of state" (if it truly is) to avoid the inspections.)

Getting the truck inspected was easy, just show the insurance.  For the fifth wheel, though, we had to locate an RV shop that is license to do Texas inspections.  (We found one just outside of Fort Worth, where we were already getting some work done on the rig.)

It sounds like you have most of the plan, and with the Escapees documentation to assist, you should be good to go.  But I'm not sure how to get around the initial Texas inspection.  Perhaps, by communicating with the Polk County tax office, they can offer suggestions as to how to proceed.  Remember, though, you're registering a vehicle with Texas.  That implies that this is your residence / domicile.  I suspect you might even have to have your license, etc. and establish the domicile first, but I am not a lawyer or expert on the matter.  Escapees is a great resource for these things.

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We purchased a car out of state.  Registered it with no inspection because we were out of state.   You just agree to get it inspected whenever you are in the state.  We've know people who have bought vehicles, registered, renewed, then sold vehicle and bought a new vehicle without every being in Texas.

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5 hours ago, Will B. said:

Among the things required, prior to registration, however, was getting Texas inspections

It was on pick up trucks to tow my TT but I have done it at least 3 times without inspection as long as the vehicle was still out of state. 

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As a former resident of San Diego I chose the Escapees So Dakota address (same letters SD, LOL LOL LOL). I liked SoDakota better because the sales tax was less, only 4%, no vehicle inspection required,no special drivers license, and lower cost insurance. You need to be in the State one night to get your drivers license but all vehicle registrations can be done by mail and your license is good for 5 years. I purchased my RV in AZ and did everything by mail, I already had the So Dakota license. You could fly to Rapid City, spend a night in a motel, and go to DMV in the morning and get everything set up. 

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40 minutes ago, Twotoes said:

You could fly to Rapid City, spend a night in a motel, and go to DMV in the morning and get everything set up. 

Is that DMV currently open? So many places closed or now require appointments.

Linda

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  • 2 weeks later...

We considered South Dakota (and, in fact, the previous owners were South Dakota “residents”), but I want to be more honest about where we might spend time. I expect we will be actually spend real time in Texas. Besides, I understand that California is quite aggressive about domicile, and South Dakota is apparently a red flag that I wouldn’t likely be able to validate, while Texas would be. Thanks, though, it would have saved us some money. 

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2 hours ago, Aaron and Peter said:

Besides, I understand that California is quite aggressive about domicile, and South Dakota is apparently a red flag that I wouldn’t likely be able to validate,

With all due respect, I think you don't fully understand how domicile "rules" work.  Our cars are registered in South Dakota and we have SD drivers licenses.  I don't need to "validate" anything to a police officer in any other State.  I need to "validate" to the authorities in SD that I meet the requirements for residency, but once I've done that no one can question my right to claim SD domicile.

No one in CA or any other State is going to bother you if you take your vehicles into CA as visitors and don't make an effort to maintain residency.  They would be just as legal in CA if they were registered in SD or TX or anywhere else.  However, if you maintain some kind of residence in CA and have your vehicles in the State for an extended period of time you may run afoul of CA laws regardless of what State they are registered in.

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2 hours ago, Aaron and Peter said:

I understand that California is quite aggressive about domicile,

Historically that has been true. There have been too many residents who were registering expensive things like boats and RVs in other states to avoid taxes, while not actually mover from CA to the state involved. My wife's family are pretty much all in CA and we have spent quite a lot of time there for that reason, never having any problems but we also were never there for longer than 5 consecutive months and while we did do volunteer for RV site positions in parks, we were employed as paid workers there. What is most commonly watched for in most communities is the keeping of an RV with out-of-state license plates on a residential property for an extended period. Since you plan to actually leave the state and no longer keep business ties there, I doubt that you will have any problems but I would suggest that you file a partial year of income taxes with the state as soon as you are no longer employed there and your house sold. That will inform them of your departure and should prevent any future problems when you visit for a short period. 

CA, like pretty much every state, has laws about how long you can stay without being required to register your vehicles there and get a driver's license. When we were doing our extended visits there the period was 6 months, if not employed or 30 days if employed in a position that was not considered to be seasonal. 

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It would interesting to go see how rigs are registered in states other than CA than own lots in Coarsegold and Jojoba Hills SKP parks.  And same with other parks, whether SKP or not, in CA or not.  This is a lifestyle that allows flexibility for such things.  LEOs know this esp those in areas with that sort of population.  

Dont sweat the small stuff, do your best diligence and ENJOY THE JOURNEY.  If your intent is to do the right thing, then it will all work out.  

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6 minutes ago, rpsinc said:

It would interesting to go see how rigs are registered in states other than CA than own lots in Coarsegold and Jojoba Hills SKP parks.  And same with other parks, whether SKP or not, in CA or not.  This is a lifestyle that allows flexibility for such things.  LEOs know this esp those in areas with that sort of population.  

Dont sweat the small stuff, do your best diligence and ENJOY THE JOURNEY.  If your intent is to do the right thing, then it will all work out.  

Owning property in any state does not make you a resident of that state.   WORKING is the first trigger, living at property longer than what the state allows is the second trigger and so on.   Most people will be turned in by neighbors who are angry about seeing someone day in and day out not pay their fair share.  But most states this year are not worried about it because a lot of people were caught in states by the pandemic and illnesses and could not move on.   

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10 minutes ago, Barbaraok said:

Most people will be turned in by neighbors who are angry about seeing someone day in and day out not pay their fair share.

Either that or by code enforcement officers. I believe that both CA co-op parks also have a maximum time that you can spend there in a year. There may also be restrictions on park models as I don't recall seeing any of them when we visited, but don't bank on my memory! 

Quote

Q. Does membership in Jojoba Hills affect my state of residence?

As a Member of Jojoba Hills you own no property in the resort, so your membership has no effect on your resident state and country

 

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We sold our house so we own no property in CA anymore.  Although I may be doing some piecemeal work from my old CA employer I will pay appropriate CA taxes on that income. We leave CA before July 1 permanently and will file partial-year for 2021. I’m also moving our storage our of state. I’m pretty sure we will be ok with CA but also wanted to make sure that I could defend my domicile choice if CA challenges it. My only other income is my pension. I have no concerns about the Texas tags on my RV and car while we remain in CA. 

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If you continue to work for your employer, even piecemeal work, you will have to file a non resident income tax return for the amount earned in CA. Owning property in CA does not make you a CA resident. I have 3 rentals in San Diego and am a So Dakota resident. I file a CA non resident tax return on my rental income. 

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21 hours ago, Twotoes said:

If you continue to work for your employer, even piecemeal work, you will have to file a non resident income tax return for the amount earned in CA. Owning property in CA does not make you a CA resident. I have 3 rentals in San Diego and am a So Dakota resident. I file a CA non resident tax return on my rental income. 

Sounds like the correct approach to me, but this is only my understanding and I am no tax professional and rely on CPAs to keep me legal.

On 1/23/2021 at 1:44 PM, Kirk W said:

I believe that both CA co-op parks also have a maximum time that you can spend there in a year.

Not sure, but does that apply to those who own lots in a park.  My parents owned a lot in Benson, and I dont remember them saying they were not allowed to be there full time.  I seem to remember that some people stayed there full time.

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