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Your domicile, or legal residence, is your true home or main residence. You may have multiple residences at one time, but only 1 domicile. You can't choose to make your home one place for general living purposes and in another for tax purposes. Your legal residence is usually where you maintain your most important family, social, economic, political, and religious ties, and it depends on all the facts and circumstances per case, including good faith.
A minor's domicile is the same as that of the parent or guardian who has lawful custody of the child.
The domicile of a mentally incompetent person under guardianship can be changed by the the guardian's intent (within the jurisdiction of the appointing court), or the incompetent's intent if he or she has sufficient mental capacity to choose a new home.
The basic rules that apply when determining a domicile or change in domicile:
You cannot change your domicile by taking a temporary or longer than expected absence from Massachusetts. You must not intend to return. To change your domicile, you must have declared your intent and taken steps to do so. Your declaration of intent will be examined closely. If you assert that your domicile has changed, you bear the burden of proving that fact.
Factors that will be considered when determining if you've changed your domicile:
Detailed information required:
You're a full-year resident if:
You're a part-year resident if you:
You're a nonresident if you are neither a full-year nor a part-year resident.
A "permanent place of abode" is a dwelling place that someone, not necessarily the owner, continually maintains. This includes a place owned or leased by a spouse.
A permanent place of abode generally will not include:
Certain taxpayers have special guidelines to follow when it comes to residency status and filing taxes:
Federal tax treatment:
If you receive income from foreign sources, you may exclude foreign earned income attributable to the period of residence in a foreign country if you qualify for the exclusion.
To qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion, you must:
A U.S. resident alien working abroad can qualify for this exclusion if they meet the physical presence test.
Foreign income includes:
Massachusetts tax treatment:
Massachusetts does not allow the foreign earned income exclusion. However, Massachusetts residents who are taxed on income earned in Canada or in any of its provinces can claim credit for such taxes after accounting for any federal credit.
Under many income tax treaties, nonresident alien teachers and professors who temporarily visit the United States primarily to teach at a university or other accredited educational institution are not subject to U.S. income tax on compensation they receive for teaching for the first 2 or 3 years after arriving in the U.S.
Many treaties also provide exemptions for engaging in research. Pay for teaching includes payments to a nonresident alien professor, teacher, or researcher by a U.S. university or other accredited educational institution for teaching or research work at the institution.
Whether you're a resident or nonresident alien, your visa status does not determine your tax status. Your tax status is determined by tax treaties between the U.S. and another country.
The most common types of visas are:
For a complete list of visas, see IRS Immigration classifications and Visa Categories.
The United States has income tax treaties with many foreign countries, most of which are reciprocal. If a type of income is tax-exempt to U.S. residents working overseas, that same type of income will be tax-exempt to residents of foreign countries (nonresident aliens) who are working in the U.S.
Under these treaties, nonresident aliens are taxed either at a lower rate, or are exempt from U.S. income taxes on certain types of income they receive from sources within the United States. Each treaty is different and may specify that either all income is exempt, or only certain types of income are exempt.
Income you have to report if you're a nonresident alien:
Resident aliens do not benefit from income tax treaties.
If you're a nonresident, your Massachusetts source income is excluded for Massachusetts purposes if:
Income you have to report:
Income that is federally excluded due to a tax treaty is also excluded for Massachusetts tax purposes. However, you still need to report the income if it is greater than the tax return filing threshold.
Employers must withhold Massachusetts state tax unless an exemption under a tax treaty applies. This will be shown on U.S. Form 1042-S - Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding.
If your income is exempt due to a tax treaty, but your taxes have been withheld by an employer anyway, you (a nonresident) can claim a refund of the amount withheld, by filing Form 1-NR/PY - Massachusetts Nonresident Income Tax Return and attaching: