Filing State Tax Returns

Even if you’ve abandoned your former state permanently and aren’t a resident anymore, you might still need to file a state return. This could be true if you have income from sources within that state, like rental activity. H&R Block U.S. Expat Tax Services can help you determine if you need to file.

Whether you need to continue filing a state tax return depends on your state of residence prior to your move abroad. Every state has different rules for determining residency status. Usually, state residency is based on the concept of “domicile.” Domicile is an abstract concept defined as your true, fixed, and permanent home. Your domicile is the place where you intend to return whenever you’re gone.

A state considers many factors to determine whether you’re still a resident while you live abroad. Factors include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Where your family resides
  • Whether you own a home or property in the state
  • Whether you conduct business or maintain accounts in the state
  • Whether you maintain a driver’s license in the state
  • Whether you’ve registered to vote in the state

When your state decides your residency by reason of domicile, these are important considerations:

  1. The length of your stay abroad
  2. The specific purpose for being abroad

Ex: You’re an expat working in the United Kingdom on a two-year assignment. Your spouse and children are still living in the United States. Many states would treat you as a resident.

However, you’re likely no longer a resident of your former state in this case:

  • You moved to France to live with your spouse.
  • You established French residency status.
  • You have no plans to return to the United States in the near future.

Certain states, including California, have safe harbor rules. Under these rules, you’re treated as a nonresident if you meet certain requirements even though you’re still domiciled in that state.


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