Travel in Motor Home Does Not Establish Domicile

Nelson and Irma Graves were long-time Gadsden residents. Mr. Graves retired on disability in the late 1990's, and the couple began traveling throughout the Southeastern United States in their motor home. They did not sell their home in Gadsden, and Mrs. Graves' mother continued to live in it.

Mr. and Mrs. Graves did not file an Alabama income tax return in 2000, but the Department of Revenue received information from the IRS that the couple had an Alabama address and had sufficient income to require the filing of an Alabama return. The Department levied Alabama tax on the income and the Graves appealed to the Administrative Law Division. During the hearing, Mr. Graves testified that he and his wife had spent most of 2000 traveling through the state of Tennessee in their motor home, and therefore were not required to file an Alabama return for that year.

You've Got to Live Somewhere

In his opinion, Administrative Law Judge Bill Thompson said that in order for a taxpayer to change his domicile from Alabama, he must establish a fixed domicile elsewhere. The ALJ also said that the burden is on the taxpayer to prove that a change of domicile has taken place, and that the presumption is in favor of the original or former home over the newly acquired home. Judge Thompson found it significant that the Graves had not registered their vehicle in Tennessee, applied for a Tennessee drivers license, or taken any other actions that would indicate their intent to establish residence in Tennessee. Mr. and Mrs. Graves visited several Southeastern states during 2000, including coming to Alabama one or two times a month.

Judge Thompson found it "questionable" whether the couple ever abandoned Alabama as their domicile, and he said that they clearly had not established Tennessee as their new domicile with the intent to remain there permanently. The facts establish that Mr. and Mrs. Graves remained domiciled in Alabama during 2000, and are thus required to file an Alabama return for that year.

Nelson and Irma Graves v. State of Alabama Department of Revenue, Administrative Law Division Docket No. 04-206, 5/26/04

This page last updated 9/28/04

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