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For the tax year 2016, am I considered a New Jersey resident?

The answer is in this official document but one point in there is not clear to me.

I am a French citizen who has lived in NJ since September 2015. I am in the US on a 2-year H1-B visa. So I am currently considered a temporary visitor in the US (not a resident), however I am a resident alien for US tax purposes (according to the substantial presence test).

Now, for New Jersey, whether I am a resident or not depends on the notion of domicile and of permanent home: I am considered a resident if either NJ is my domicile, or it's not my domicile but it's my permanent home (and I spent more than 183 days there in 2016, which is the case).

The official document gives the definitions of domicile and permanent home but I find them somewhat confusing:

  • They start by saying "Domicile is the place you consider your permanent home" (!!)
  • "A permanent home is a residence that you maintain permanently as your household". Great.

In spite of the poor wording, after reading the full thing, I believe that NJ is considered neither my domicile nor my permanent home, since I am only here temporarily (for 2 years -maybe 3). But I am not certain because I find the definitions confusing (e.g. I fail to understand the difference between "domicile" and "permanent home").

Can anyone please confirm my situation? Thank you!

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    Combine the two: Domicile is the place you consider your residence that you maintain permanently as your household. I think you could only consider yourself nonresident if you have a house/apartment elsewhere that you still maintain, but even if you did, I'm not sure it would count. – mkennedy Jan 27 '17 at 0:25
  • @mkennedy I do not have another home/apartment elsewhere that I maintain. But have you read the document? I quote: "Moving to a new location, even for a long time, does not change your domicile if you intend to remain only for a limited time", and similarly for permanent home: "Your home is not permanent if you maintain it only during a temporary or limited period of time, no matter how long, for the accomplishment of a particular purpose (e.g., temporary job assignment)". – Seub Jan 27 '17 at 0:29
  • If it makes you feel any better, I'm considered a tax resident of Pennsylvania even though I've not lived in Pennsylvania since I was 18 (I'm 30 now). You are probably tax resident in New Jersey. – la femme cosmique May 4 '18 at 10:23
  • Fwiw, this article discusses the issue in depth as it regards retirees moving between states. Still unclear to me how it applies to your case. – krubo Aug 8 '18 at 8:52
  • New Jersey considers you to have exactly one domicile at a time. It could come down to a comparison between where you stay in New Jersey and where you live in France. The more concrete your plans to return to France are, the stronger your case for being a non-resident. "I plan to move back to my brother's house in Montpellier no later than the end of 2021" is better than "I plan to move back to the European Union someday". – Gerard Ashton Jan 2 at 5:41
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It's typical for the law in the USA to be a little vague in application to cases like yours. What happens is, a court case will eventually happen between a taxpayer like you and the State of New Jersey. And, the ambiguity is resolved by the court. Thereafter, the "case history" becomes the effective rule by precedent.

Now I do not necessarily recommend that you become the person to set the precedent! What you could do is to obtain the services of a New Jersey tax lawyer. They will be able to quickly assess the precedent in case law and to inform you. I would guess this service will cost you between $200 and $1000.

The other, higher risk but lower initial cost option is to file your taxes as if you are not resident (make your justification clear), and wait for the State of New Jersey to let you know whether they disagree with your position.

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