Discussion:Spouses live and work in different states

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Discussion Forum Index --> Tax Questions --> Spouses live and work in different states

Holymoley (talk|edits) said:

8 May 2007
She lives in California with the kids and works there too. He lives in Massachusetts alone, and works there too. How do they file state income tax returns? resident, non-resident, part year resident, what?

Riley2 (talk|edits) said:

9 May 2007
California will require a joint 540NR if they file jointly for federal purposes.

KatieJ (talk|edits) said:

9 May 2007
This question gets the usual answer, viz.: It depends <G>.

Usually married couples who are not estranged have the same domicile, although that is not always the case. California is a community property state; Massachusetts is a separate property state. If both spouses are domiciled in California, California community property law governs the division of income between them. If both are domiciled in Massachusetts, Massachusetts separate property law governs the division of income. If he is domiciled in MA, and she is domiciled in CA, CA community property law applies to her earnings; MA separate property law applies to his.

Domicile is a common-law concept that is generally described as an individual's true, fixed home and permanent establishment; the place to which an individual intends to return whenever absent; the place where an individual has voluntarily fixed a habitation for self and family with the intention of making a permanent home. See, e.g., 18 Cal. Code of Regs. Sec. 17017(c); Black's Law Dictionary.

Tax residence is not always the same as domicile. Each state defines a tax resident by its own statutory law. Massachusetts defines a resident to include all domiciliaries, unless the individual (a) maintains no place of abode in Massachusetts, (b) does maintain a place of abode somewhere else, and (c) spends no more than 30 days of the taxable year in Massachusetts. A person domiciled outside Massachusetts who maintains a permanent place of abode in the state and spends, in the aggregate, more than 183 days of the taxable year in Massachusetts is also a resident. Mass. Gen. L. Chapter 62 ยง 1(f) ; Massachusetts Technical Information Release 95-7, 01/10/1996.

California defines a resident as any individual, wherever domiciled, who is present in the state for a purpose that is not temporary or transitory. In addition, a person domiciled in California who is absent for a temporary or transitory purpose is a resident. Cal. Rev & Tax. Code Sec. 17014.

In California, if one spouse is a resident and the other a nonresident, and they file a joint federal income tax return, they must file jointly for California purposes unless the nonresident spouse has no California source income. If one spouse is domiciled in California and there is community income from a California source (e.g., wages for services performed in California by the resident spouse), half of the California source community income belongs to the nonresident spouse, and the spouses must file jointly unless they file separate federal returns.

In Massachusetts, a married couple who are not both residents for the entire year or the same part of the year must file separate returns.

So, those are the rules, but you have not given us enough information to tell you how they apply to your example.

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