That’s the difficult message accountants and lawyers are delivering to clients these days, after the Covid-19 pandemic scattered New Yorkers across the country. The city levies its own income tax of as much as 3.876% in addition to the state’s top rate of 8.82%, and people often assume that they can avoid paying by spending more than half the year somewhere else. Nope.
In reality, New York state uses five primary criteria to determine a taxpayer’s residency status: The home they live in, their business ties, where they spend their time, family connections and the so-called “teddy bear test,” which is where they keep the items near and dear to them like artwork, heirlooms and pets.
Many families that recently left New York, the epicenter of the virus’s first U.S. wave, had merely loaded up their cars or hopped on planes with a couple of suitcases.
“There’s more to changing your residence from New York than just staying out of state for a period of time,” said Yvonne Cort, a partner at law firm Capell Barnett Matalon & Schoenfeld. “You need to make the new place your home — with all the sentiments that go with that word.”