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How Snowbirds Can Be Taxed as Florida Residents

If you're a snowbird in Florida, I bet you chuckle with delight whenever you watch the national weather forecast these days. While your friends up north are brushing snow off their cars, you're driving with the top down. While they're slipping and sliding on icy sidewalks, you're taking long walks on the beach. Yep, you're probably pretty happy right now with your decision to head south for the winter and leave the cold behind. But, before you get too excited, there's one thing you may not have escaped by moving to the Sunshine State for the winter – high income taxes in your northern home.

During the winter months, you probably hear a lot of talk from permanent Floridians about the tax benefits of being a full-fledged Florida resident. After all, Florida is one of only nine states without an income tax. So, if your summer home is in a high-tax state up north — New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, Wisconsin and the like — you can potentially save thousands of dollars each year if you can satisfy the Florida residency requirements.

But you can't just say "I'm a Florida resident" and have the income tax bill from your summer state magically disappear. You need to show that Florida is your primary and permanent home — and it's your actions, not your words, that count the most. That means cutting as many ties to your warm-weather home as possible and putting down roots in Florida. But no matter how rooted in Florida you become, don't be surprised if your summer state still wants you to pay taxes as a resident on all your income (instead of paying tax only on in-state income as a nonresident). The tax agencies in many high-tax northern states have well-earned reputations for fighting wealthier snowbirds who suddenly claim to be Florida residents. So, if you're going to make that claim, be sure you can back it up. Here are a few things you can do to show that you are, in fact, a Florida resident if your warm-weather state challenges your residency status.

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