Hat tip to Doug Chapin: More Fun with Domicile. Taxes vs. Voting.

Glad to see my friend Doug Chapin back at the keyboard after a well-deserved hiatus.

Image courtesy of Metropolitan Knowledge Network

Doug’s postings about domicile  may seem tongue in cheek, but the issue of “domicile” versus “residence” was a heated issue in the most recent Portland mayor’s race.

As anyone from this part of the country knows, Oregon has no sales tax and Washington has no income tax.  This creates an interesting cross border dynamic between Portland and Vancouver, two cities that are part of one metropolitan area.  Not surprisingly, there is a large shopping mall and a number of car dealerships clustered near Oregon’s northern border.  And Clark County, WA has experienced a boom in suburban development over the past quarter century.

Charlie Hales, currently mayor of Portland, was one of these cross border residents for five years.  It turned out that he’d paid taxes in Washington from 2004-2009 but continued to be on the voting rolls and cast ballots in Oregon.

What appears to have been the key consideration in Hales’s case is that he was able to claim “temporary” residence in Washington because he “always intended to return to Oregon.”  This obligated him to list himself as a Washington resident for tax purposes but not for voting purposes.

The larger issue that Doug refers to is how “domicile” for tax purposes differs from “domicile” for voting purposes.  This may seem like an irrelevant distinction to most citizens, but anyone who has paid taxes in more than one jurisdiction or lived overseas and had to choose a “domicile” for voting knows the issue can be far from simple.