What Is a Florida Resident?

A Florida resident is someone who primarily lives in Florida. Florida residency requires an intent to maintain a primary residence in Florida. This can be done, for example, by obtaining a Florida driver’s license, registering to vote in Florida, registering vehicles in the state, and using a Florida address for federal tax returns.

Some people want to become Florida residents to escape state income and inheritance taxes. Other people want to become Florida residents to take advantage of its asset protection laws or to qualify for in-state college tuition.

Florida Residency For Income Tax Purposes

Florida law does not address residency in Florida for state income tax purposes. Income tax residency is not a Florida issue because Florida has no income tax. Income tax residency is an issue for the state of one’s other residence, typically “up north,” that imposes a state income tax on its citizens.

The taxing state has the monetary incentive to retain your residency and deny Florida residency. The taxing state authority sets its rules for changing your residency to another state. The taxing state rules are the same if you reside part-time in Florida or in any other state other than the taxing state.

Under the tax regulations of most taxing states, you will need to be living in Florida for more than six months in order to avoid being subject to state income tax elsewhere. A tax professional in the taxing state can explain the taxing state’s requirements and guidelines for determining whether your time in Florida each year avoids state income tax elsewhere.

What Is the 183-Day Rule For Florida?

States that impose an income tax have laws requiring their taxpayers to demonstrate an intent to live in a different state (such as Florida) for most of the calendar year. Many income tax states use a “183 Day Rule,” or a 6-month rule, to establish residency beyond their taxing state.

The 183-day rule requires that a person looking to declare residency in Florida for state tax purposes must reside in Florida or another non-taxing state for at least 183 days (in other words, one day more than six months).

Any time spent in a state can count as a day. For example, suppose a former New York resident has moved to Florida. The person still works occasionally in New York despite being a Florida resident. Occasionally, the person travels to New York for meetings or leisure but returns the same day to the person’s Florida residence. The New York travel days still count as “New York days” in terms of the 183-day rule, even though the person ultimately spends the night in Florida.

Note that the 183-day rule is not a Florida rule because Florida has no state income tax.

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Florida Residency for Asset Protection

Only Florida residents can take advantage of Florida’s liberal asset protection laws for most purposes. For instance, one must first establish permanent Florida residency to protect money in a Florida homestead property or other assets exempt under Florida law.

Florida residency for asset protection means more than just owning Florida property or having a Florida address. Whether or not you qualify as a permanent Florida resident depends on whether your circumstances and your actions demonstrate your intent to establish a primary place of residence in Florida. When “going home” means you are returning to your residence in Florida, and when your mail is sent to your Florida address, you are probably a Florida resident.

Florida Statute § 196.012 defines a permanent residence as “that place where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which, whenever absent, he or she has the intention of returning.”

How to Become a Florida Resident

A Florida resident means being recognized as a resident of Florida for legal, tax, and educational purposes. Being a resident of Florida affects your taxes, tuition for in-state universities and colleges, and asset protection.

Here are the main ways to demonstrate your intent to maintain Florida as your primary and long-term residence:

  1. Be in Florida for at least 183 days of the year.
  2. Obtain and maintain a Florida driver’s license.
  3. Register and insure your vehicle in Florida.
  4. Register to vote in Florida.
  5. Own property in Florida and claim the homestead exemption.
  6. Work for or run a Florida-based business.
  7. Have utility bills and bank accounts with a Florida address.
  8. Don’t claim residency in another state.
  9. File a declaration of domicile.
  10. File a final income tax return with the former state of residence.
  11. Change passport address to Florida.
  12. Move valuable household items to your Florida home.
  13. Enroll your children in a local school.
How to become a Florida resident

What Is a Florida Declaration of Domicile?

A declaration of domicile is an affidavit that proves residency in Florida. It is used to show an intent to make Florida your permanent home, become eligible for the homestead exemption, or qualify for in-state tuition for Florida schools.

People who maintain a second residence in another state can file a declaration of domicile to show their Florida residence as their primary home.

Is Declaration of Domicile Required For Florida Residency?

A declaration of domicile is not required to become a Florida resident. No statute requires an existing or new Florida resident to file a Declaration of Domicile. Failure to file the declaration does not disqualify one from being a Florida resident.

The declaration, by itself, is insufficient to establish domicile. The Florida Supreme Court explained that Florida residency requires not just an intention expressed in a declaration but also the fact of residency. Overt acts of residence must accompany good faith intention to be a Florida resident.

A declaration of domicile may be helpful to establish under the income tax state’s laws that you are a Florida resident.

Asset Protection Advantages for Florida Residency

Florida residents enjoy some of the best asset protection laws among any state in the country.

The most well-known protection is the Florida homestead exemption, which protects a person’s homestead from forced sale by a judgment creditor. The homestead exemption is unlimited without any dollar cap. However, there is an acreage limit: 1/2 acre if the property is inside a city and 160 acres if in an unincorporated part of a county.

Florida also provides an expansive version of tenants by entireties, which can protect all types of property a married couple owns from creditors of a single spouse. Property that can be owned by the entireties includes, for example, bank accounts, real estate, business interests, furniture, and certain equipment.

Florida law presumes that all personal property acquired by a married couple in Florida is tenants by entireties. In most cases, it is up to the creditor to rebut the presumption of entireties ownership. Finally, Florida statutes exempt the earnings of the head of household, or head of family. Earnings can include wages, salary, commission, or bonus. A head of family is one who provides more than 50% of the financial support for someone they have a moral or legal duty to support (usually an immediate family member).

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Is There a Waiting Period for Florida Residency?

There is no waiting period to establish Florida residency. You are entitled to Florida’s asset protection benefits as soon as you intend to make your Florida residence your primary home.

The rules are different for bankruptcy, however. Bankruptcy law imposes a two-year waiting period before a debtor may claim Florida’s exemptions from judgment creditors.

Can Moving to Florida Be a Fraudulent Transfer?

Moving to Florida cannot be a fraudulent transfer. There is no legal concept of a “fraudulent move.” Therefore, moving to Florida from another state cannot be a fraudulent transfer. A fraudulent transfer is when a judgment debtor transfers an asset to another person in order to hinder or delay collection from a current or future creditor. Moving to Florida is not a transfer of assets from you to another person.

Looking at definition of Florida residency

When Is It Too Late to Move to Florida?

Many people with legal problems are interested in moving to Florida to take advantage of Florida’s homestead protection and other asset protection laws. It is never too late to move to Florida to obtain protection from civil liability. Debtors may legally become Florida residents and protect money invested in a new Florida homestead property even after a money judgment is entered.

There are no civil or criminal penalties for moving to Florida after a creditor files a lawsuit. However, a possible complication exists if another state’s court has issued an injunction against the transfer of assets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does establishing residency work in Florida?

In Florida, establishing residency requires physically residing in the state with the intent to make it your permanent home. You can demonstrate residency by obtaining a Florida driver’s license, registering to vote, or filing a Declaration of Domicile in your county. Residency in Florida for at least six months is typically needed to qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges and to claim the state’s homestead exemption for property tax purposes.

What is a Florida resident?

A Florida resident is someone who lives primarily in Florida. To be a Florida resident for most purposes, you must live in the state for at least 183 days of the year. Some exemption laws do not have a time requirement.

How do you change residency to Florida?

To change residency to Florida for tax purposes, a person should follow a residency checklist presented in this article. Some of the most important items are recording a Florida declaration of domicile, registering to vote in Florida, and changing your driver’s license to Florida.

How long does it take to become a Florida resident?

It takes 183 days to become a Florida resident for tax purposes. Most other states implement what is known as the 183-day rule, which requires that a person reside in Florida for at least 183 days (more than six months) to be considered a resident.

For asset protection purposes, there is no waiting period to become a Florida resident.

Can you be a resident of two states?

A person can own multiple residences, but can only have one domicile. A domicile is your true home, where you intend as your family’s base.

However, in some rare situations, a person could be a resident of two states for state income tax purposes. This situation occurs when a person is domiciled in one state, but lives in another state for more than 183 days. This could cause the other state to impose income taxes.

How do you prove residency in Florida?

Several acts contribute towards proof of residency in Florida. Some of the most important items include recording a declaration of domicile, changing your driver’s license, and registering to vote. However, it is best to look at a full checklist.

What is the 183 day rule for residency?

The 183-day rule refers to the amount of time someone must live and physically be present in Florida before being considered a Florida resident by a person’s former state of residence.

What does it cost to become a Florida resident?

There is no cost to becoming a Florida resident. All you have to do is move to the state and follow the residency requirements.

Jon Alper

About the Author

Jon Alper is a nationally recognized attorney specializing in asset protection planning. He has over 35 years of experience and graduated with honors from the University of Florida Law School.

Jon has been recognized as a legal expert by media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors.

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