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Taxing part-year residents: What if you have a second home elsewhere?

There are a couple of different scenarios by which Massachusetts can try to tax you as a full-year resident, even if you don't live here all year round.

One is if your domicile (legal residence) is here for the entire year, even if you spend some time elsewhere, such as in a Florida condo during the winter or in a summer home in Maine.

The other scenario is if you have your domicile elsewhere and spend more than 183 days in Massachusetts - but only if you also have a permanent place of abode here.

What does" permanent place of abode" mean? We will discuss that question in this post.

Does an "abode" have to be a house?

An abode is a dwelling place where you intend to make a permanent home. It does not have to be a house; it can be a place you own or lease, or that your spouse owns or leases.

What makes an abode "permanent"?

The question of what makes an abode permanent involves a factual determination.

Mere residence in Massachusetts for more than 183 days is not enough. To tax you as a full-year resident, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue will also have to show that you maintain a permanent dwelling place here.

For example, suppose you are a businessperson who had to relocate to Boston for a project that lasted a year-and-a-half. This duration is obviously more than 183 days, but if you don't intend to remain in Boston, it isn't permanent.

Is there a difference between domicile and residence?

Yes. You can have multiple homes or residences, just as you can have allegiances to multiple sports teams. But you can have only one domicile or legal residence, in the sense of a place which you intend to make your true home.

If you are truly are a part-year resident, how much income do you have to make in Massachusetts before you have to file there?

Generally the number is $8,000. But as we explained in a post last year, there are some potentially tricky issues that can arise in defining Massachusetts income.

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