The Department of Revenue ("Department") has adopted common law concepts of domicile. Commonwealth v. Davis, 284 Mass. 41, 50 (1933), defines domicile as "the place of actual residence with intention to remain permanently or for an indefinite time and without any certain purpose to return to a former place of abode." Domicile is a composite of many factors and encompasses the whole fabric of a person's social, economic, and political life. Massachusetts has historically regarded charitable contributions, among other factors, as an indicator of whether a taxpayer is domiciled in Massachusetts. See, e.g., at 46, 48. The rationale for using this criterion as one of the factors in determining where a person is domiciled was that taxpayers were considered most likely to make contributions to charities located closest to the center of their social, economic, and political life.

Taxpayers now make contributions to local, regional, and national charities via modern financial and communication networks. Taxpayers can easily make contributions to charities located great distances from their places of domicile or long after they have physically moved away from a charity's primary service area. The Department recognizes these changes in patterns of giving and wishes to encourage contributions to charities, regardless of the locations of the charities, from both Massachusetts residents and nonresidents. Although domicile is usually determined from all the evidence and circumstances, the Department will no longer consider a taxpayer's charitable contributions relevant or applicable in determinations of domicile.

This new policy applies both to the Department's assertions of Massachusetts domicile and to taxpayers' assertions of domicile elsewhere and to individual income tax and estate tax cases. This new policy applies to all pending domicile cases at all stages of review or appeal, as well as to all future domicile cases.

Stephen W. Kidder
Commissioner of Revenue

May 11, 1990

TIR 90-5