As a military spouse who moves frequently, knowing where you can claim residence, vote and pay income taxes can be confusing. However, the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act can help simplify the process.
The MSRRA allows you to claim legal residence in the state where you live with your service member due to military orders. The Internal Revenue Service considers this your domicile, or the place you consider your home. Note that the law does not allow you to select just any state as your domicile or legal residence. Examples of legal residency or domicile include where you have the following:
- Voter registration
- Property ownership
- Professional license
- Vehicle registration
- Driver's license
- Tax breaks for a declaration of homestead
If you choose to claim state residency where you currently live with your service member on military orders, you'll need to change your residency when you and your service member move to another state.
The MSRRA allows you to vote in either the state where you currently live due to military orders or another state where you claim legal residency. Note, however, you'll need to meet the legal residency requirements to vote in a state where you no longer live and obtain an absentee ballot. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website for more information.
Under the MSRRA, military spouses may have to pay state income tax in the state where they earn income if they fall into the following categories:
- Reside in a state other than the state of their legal residence
- Live in the state for the purpose of living with their service member
- Live in the state because of their service member's military orders
- Claim the same state of residence as their service member
Your installation's legal assistance office can answer questions regarding taxes and state residency. Use the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS tool to search by installation, state or program to find the information relevant to you. Select ‘Program or service' from the drop-down menu and select ‘Legal Services/JAG.’ Then, enter your installation or postal code and click ‘Search’ to find a point of contact near you.
For more information on income taxes, visit the Deductions section of the Employment Readiness lifecycle stage of MySECO. You can also speak with a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. For additional guidance, use the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website.