Expat Taxes 101: How to File a State Tax Return

Hopefully, you filed your Federal Tax Return by the April 15th deadline. If you did not, interest is accruing even with the extension expats receive until June 15th! However, there is a lesser-known component of expat tax requirements that sometimes catches expats off guard – namely, state tax returns. Depending on the last state in which you held residency in the United States, you may be required to file a State Tax Return in addition to your other annual filings.

Residency Determination

Every state determines residency in a different way. Some states are “stickier” than others, which means that it is harder for an expat to cut ties with their previous state residence. In general, if you moved abroad from California, New Mexico, North Carolina, or Virginia, you will likely need to file a state tax return. If you moved abroad from Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, or Wyoming, chances are, you won’t owe anything because they do not impose income taxes. But depending on the state’s reporting rules, you may need to file an informational return. The other states exist in a grey area, and your state tax return obligation may depend on anything from how long you’ve lived abroad to any lingering ties to the state. Most states use some combination of the following criteria to determine residency:

  • If you lived in the state at any point during the year
  • If your immediate family (spouse and dependent children) lives in the state while you’re abroad
  • If you return to the state each time you return to the US
  • If you maintain an abode (permanent residence) in the state
  • If you have a driver’s license, ID card, library cards, mail correspondence, telephone or utility bills, association memberships, or voting rights in the state

Getting rid of the ties listed above can help you avoid having to file a state tax return in the future.

To get more specific information on whether you’ll need to file a state tax return, contact your state’s Department of Revenue or tax and finance website. For your convenience, they’re listed below:

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

New Hampshire

Nevada

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Now that tax season is winding down for those who don’t receive automatic extensions, the wait time for a response will undoubtedly be briefer!

Documents Needed to File a State Tax Return

To prepare to file a state tax return, gather the following documents:

  • The prior year’s tax return
  • Travel calendar
  • Income documents (both earned and unearned)
  • Deduction documents such as interest paid to a US bank, property taxes, taxes paid to your country of residence, and the social security numbers or ITINs for any dependents

For an even more thorough list, check out our guide to state tax documents.

Greenback Accountants Can Help You Become Compliant

In addition to their expertise in filing Federal Tax Returns for expats, the accountants on the Greenback team can determine whether or not you’ll need to file state returns, as well. For your most effortless expat tax filing prep yet, get started with Greenback today!

Free Guide: The 25 Things Every Expat Needs to Know About Taxes

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