A recent case from California’s Office of Tax Appeals brings some clarity to how strictly California dates a change of residency for income tax purposes when a nonresident claims to have moved to California shortly after a liquidity event. The case, Appeal of Housman, OTA Case No. 18010200 (November 2022), in some ways is the flipside of Appeal of J. Bracamonte, a case involving a resident who claimed to move to another state shortly after a stock sale. Bracamonte is discussed in detail in this article. Both cases went badly for the taxpayers, and for many of the same reasons: failure to plan, failure to keep residency related records, establishing or retaining superior living accommodations in California, spending more time in the state than in their home jurisdiction during the year at issue.
Overview: The Importance of Timing
As discussed in the Bracamonte article, changing residency from California is binary: it happens on a specific date. Indeed, the date has to be reported on Schedule CA of the 540NR “part-year” return, which exiting taxpayers, with few exceptions, have to file for the year they move. The converse is also true for nonresidents moving to California. Schedule CA of the part-year return requires those taxpayers to disclose the date they become California residents.