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Tax Filing in Order to Establish Residency at a State School after the First Year


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I am attending a state school as a graduate student and need to apply for residency after my first year or be charged the tuition difference for out-of-state students during my second year, something that must absolutely be avoided.


I filed my 2014 taxes a few weeks ago and filed a full-year return for this state because I was overseas until August, earning no money, and thought it was silly to file a return in my former permanent resident state since I didn't earn a cent there last year while I was overseas. I just found out from an email from the grad division that "it is strongly advised to file a partial-year return" because it will help my case for establishing residency, but I can't take back the return now as it's already been filed!


When I upload my documents for my residency application, should I just include a note saying that I was overseas and thus filed a full-year return for this state as I made no money anywhere else (I can prove that I moved here August 1st, got a new state driver's license and address and registered to vote within two weeks, so the rest of the documentation will be no problem). Anybody have experience with this? Could a full-year return when I wasn't actually a full-year resident seriously hurt my chances of filing for residency for tuition purposes with the university registrar?

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I would have thought a full year return in California would go further for establishing California residency than a partial year return? At the same time, when filling out my return this weekend (had to do it for the US, California and Canada, what fun!) I remembered that you could only file as a resident of a state if you spent more than 6 months in that state?


And I think you can amend/correct a return (see http://www.irs.gov/uac/Nine-Facts-on-filing-an-Amended-Return).That website says you can do so within 3 years (but you probably have to wait until they process your first return). 


Although at this point, perhaps the best thing to do is to first ask the grad division to confirm whether or not a full year return is good enough? That is, perhaps that email was to warn people away from filing a full year return in their old state (i.e. recommending that you file partial year in California and partial year in old state), in which case, filing a full year return in California is even better. 

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I only spent five months of 2014 in California, but when I filed my taxes with an online service it still let me file a full-year return based on those dates. The first return has already been processed, so I could go amend it now, but you're right, I should probably email the residency office to ask if it will be a problem first and then amend if necessary.

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I don't understand why filing a partial-year return would help you establish residency. That doesn't make any sense to me.


But if it really will, then I agree with the advice to 1) contact the residency office to see if this will create a problem (I can't see why it would) and then 2) file an amended return if necessary.

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