Snowbirds: Watch Out For Ohio’s “Contact Period” Test!

Ohio has adopted a unique test for determining who is considered an Ohio resident for individual income taxes.  Based upon the number of  “contact periods” an individual has in Ohio during a given year, a presumption is created as to the individual’s residency.  A “contact period” occurs when an individual is in Ohio for any period of time on two consecutive days, while being away overnight from the individual’s non-Ohio residence.  Under this test, an individual is irrebuttably presumed not to be an Ohio resident if he/she: 1) had a non-Ohio abode for the entire year; 2) had less than 183 Ohio contact periods during the year; and 3) timely filed an Affidavit of Non-Ohio Residency/Domicile with the Ohio Tax Commissioner in  the following year.  Failure to file the Affidavit will cause the individual to be presumed to be an Ohio resident.

The “contact period” test often arises with respect to retirees that purchase a residence “down south”, while retaining their Ohio residence and continuing to spend significant time in the state – so-called “dual residents.”  Since the taxpayer has the burden of proving the number of non-Ohio “contact periods” he/she has during the year, it is crucial to keep complete records, perhaps even a daily journal, of those days spent outside of Ohio.  If you are contemplating moving out of the state, but retaining your Ohio residence, you should contact an Ohio state tax attorney  to confirm the necessary proof and records to be maintained to support the presumption that you are no longer an Ohio resident.

However, it should be noted that the “contact period” test normally will not apply to transition years (the first year in which the non-Ohio residence is acquired), as this test does not apply to part-year Ohio residents.