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Old 28-04-2010, 08:20   #1
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How Do You Deal with Residency / Taxes / Mail ?

After multiple searches on this forum (which have given me great insight) I still need help with a basic question(s). We are going to sell everything, move onto a boat, and cruise the east coast and Bahamas. Where should we claim residency for mail/taxes/voting/drivers license...etc? How do we handle mail forwarding?

Is there a specific place online that helps with basic questions like this?

Thank you!

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Old 28-04-2010, 08:49   #2
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We're in the process of selling everything ( wanna buy a house?) to move onto our boat and cruise the Caribbean. You can pick a state that doesn't have an income tax, just make sure it doesn't have a yearly personal property tax that includes your boat. But remember the major part of your tax bill goes to the Feds and you'll still have to pay that. We went to our accountant who is having us restructure our income so we have the lowest possible tax liability would suggest you do the same.
Since you'll be off the east coast and in the Bahamas, arrange to pay any bill you have (credit cards, etc.) on line. Internet access is readily available where you'll be and there's also good cell phone coverage so you could even use your blackberry if you have one.
We're going much further south so we're planning on a satphone, expensive but necessary if you want to stay in touch.
As for mail, we have two must receive pages a year (my wife's diabetic supplies. We plan to have them sent to a marina where it will be held until you arrive. Make sure you set it up well in advance. Otherwise we don't plan on any mail as our kids communicate by texting and email.
Don't know of any specific place that deals with these questions but we've gotten a lot of really good information here and in other sailing forums over the years.
Azi and Laura (aka bloodhunter and artlady)


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located Herrington Harbour South, Friendship MD
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Old 28-04-2010, 09:41   #3
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Did what you're planning to do back in 1999. I found the whole residency process to be easy and straightforward.

Several cruising forums recommended using MCCA or St. Brendan's Isle, both located in FL, to handle our mail forwarding.

I used MCCA for many years with never a problem and was able to use their address for everything- tax returns, drivers license, car registration, credit cards, banking, etc. Never had any questions raised. After all, this was the ONLY permanent address I had.

Bloodhunter suggestions about paying bills on-line is a good one.

Not sure that MCCA is still in business, but St. Brendan's is alive and well. Just pulled their ad off the SSCA website. You may wish to contact them. Good luck!

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Old 28-04-2010, 10:02   #4
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We use St. Brendan's Isle in Green Cove Springs, Florida, for mail forwarding to Nevis. Since we have no other address in the U.S., we were eligible to establish legal "domicile" in the State of Florida using our address there. SBI sent us the forms and filed them with the Clerk of the Court of Clay County, all for a very reasonable fee. Once you're domiciled in the State, you're eligible to register to vote there. We've been able to get our absentee ballots in time to mark them and send them back prior to the deadlines. We pay only federal income tax; nothing to the state of Florida.

We also have Florida drivers' licenses, but you actually have to apply in person for those. The SBI address is also acceptable as a billing address for U.S. based credit cards. If you set up Internet banking before you go, you can take care of everything from your computer.

SBI has a really convenient service. For an extra $7 per month, they will scan any envelopes that come into your mailbox. You can look at them online and decide whether to have them open them and, for an additional small fee, scan the contents (which will then be downloadable as a PDF file), shred them, or mail them to you. Makes it all pretty convenient.
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Old 29-04-2010, 14:08   #5
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Legal domicile

Thanks for that help everyone. One more question...if establishing legal domicile in Florida, do you then have to pay personal property tax on your boat?
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:47   #6
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You only have to pay property tax on your boat if you purchased it within the past six months. Saint Brenden's has all the info you need - it is a fabulous service, and the people who work there are absolutely super. You might be able to access all the forms and instructions online from their site without signing up, check it out. And while you are there, sign up - they rock.

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Old 01-05-2010, 08:01   #7
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When I did this about ten years ago, I consulted an attorney. I chose Texas as my state of residency because it has no state income tax, I grew up there and my duaghter still lives there so I could use her address.

The attorney said that with my drivers licence, bank accounts and federal tax returns all filed from Texas I would qualify as a Texas resident.

I used St Brendan's Isle for my "working address" and they periodically forwarded my mail to a marina along my route. St Brenan's Isle is a great service run by great people.

As others have said, you can use them to help set up Florida residency.

Property and sales tax on your boat is a separate issue, but if you are an itinerant cruiser who never spends more than three months in one state you will generally be exempt from these.

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Old 25-06-2010, 11:41   #8
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What sign should I be looking out for to apply for mail forwarding? We started living aboard last December. My condo has been rented out. I'm not attached to coming home next year. BUT I can't seem to wrap my head around not being a Pennsylvania resident anymore. Can I still be a PA resident and use a service like St. Brendans? Will the USPS forward my mail to them for a year until I'm ready to give in?
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Old 25-06-2010, 12:13   #9
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The post office will forward your mail anywhere you like for one year. After that, they will "return to sender" indicating you are "no longer at this address."
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Old 25-06-2010, 13:55   #10
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Originally Posted by ShipShape View Post
You only have to pay property tax on your boat if you purchased it within the past six months.
This is sales tax, not personal property tax.

Assuming your boat is USCG documented, if your boat is floating in Florida waters for 90 days or more you pay a nominal annual registration fee, but no personal property tax.
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Old 30-07-2010, 10:47   #11
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We've been living aboard and cruising with no other residence or property for 39 years. St Brendan's Isle wasn't always available for us, but since we began using it about ten years ago it's been wonderful. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 30-07-2010, 12:14   #12

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Lunasea, the USPS will forward mail "temporarily" for up to one year, but that forwarding apparently is left to the carrier, so if your carrier is on vacation mail may not be forwarded and get lost for weeks. (Been there, done that, yes it should be a crime.)

Or you can pay them something like $5/week for "Priority Mail weekly forwarding" and once a week they send you a Priority Mail envelope of whatever came. Probably still subject to carrier abuse.

Sometimes I wonder, if the USPS has any idea how much simpler it is to put themselves out of business as they force us to use electronic delivery (email) for all the bills and papers they won't deliver reliably any more. I'd rather use paper mail for bills and the like--but the USPS has made that so unreliable, I've switched everything I can to email.

You'd have to check PA laws, some states allow you to establish domicile and residency separately, and if you "declare and intend" to return and make it your home again sooner or later, to keep your legal status. It all depends on the states you get involved with and their individual regulations.
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Old 30-10-2010, 05:10   #13
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Another reason to reside in Florida is that it is a "swing" state and your vote carries more weight, should you care about such things. Of course you also get flooded with phone calls from various PACs.
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Old 30-10-2010, 06:08   #14
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You have already received some good information on residency issues but I can add one other consideration in regards to residency that we have personally had to deal with.
If you have children that plan to go to college in the state you were previously a resident of there could be problem with them continuing to be a resident of that state since there state of residency is determined off of the parents state of residency. Most states consider this rule to be the case in children up to the age of 25 (unless they support themselves or marry). It is a very complicated issue that should be considered before changing your state of residency IF you have children that are of or almost of college age.
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Old 30-10-2010, 06:27   #15
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There are a few complications which arise from having no fixed address--there are some organizations which demand a physical address, even if there is a PO box on your driver's license (like Avis, who I rented a car from this week). I give my sister's address to those folks.

I tried to get a 3g wireless device this year and discovered that all of the credit rating agencies hate me, but who cares. Met a guy in Maryland this year, where that state refused to renew his driver's license because he was using the St Brendan's Isle address for his mail.

Its all part of the fun and adventure of leaving your cubicle.

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