States Targeting Snowbirds Fleeing to Tax-Friendlier Climates

Wealthy taxpayers who split time between states should be prepared to prove where their true home lies.

You're lounging by the pool of your second home in Florida, chuckling as you think of your friends back home braving the blizzard in Massachusetts. And you're musing: Perhaps it's time to escape your state's tax bite as well as the bite of winter -- by claiming your Florida home as your permanent residence.

Snowbird: Prepare for battle. Tax auditors in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and other states that impose income taxes are unlikely to let you off the hook without a fight. Retirees who buy second homes in states with low or no income tax and claim they've changed their legal residence can face months of intense scrutiny from state tax auditors -- perhaps even litigation.

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Susan B. Garland
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Retirement Report
Susan Garland is the former editor of Kiplinger's Retirement Report, a personal finance publication whose subscribers are retirees and those approaching retirement. Before joining Kiplinger in 2006, Garland was a freelance writer whose work appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Modern Maturity (now AARP The Magazine), Fortune Small Business and other publications. For 12 years, Garland was a Washington-based correspondent for BusinessWeek, covering the White House, national politics, social policy and legal affairs. Garland is a graduate of Colgate University.