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I am a US citizen working in the US. Not looking to evade or trick any tax offices here. Just legitimately curious what form where indicates what my primary residence is for the purposes of local taxes? My employer withholds appropriate local taxes based on where I have indicated to them my residence is. Outside of this employer-held record though, what is telling the appropriate local tax office that I am resident? For example, if I earn money through capital gains there is no automatic withholding. When it comes time to file, what is preventing me from simply indicating a different residence (within the same state, just in a different locality) with a lower tax rate? I do not want to do this; the question is really more geared at what happens when I move... who do I tell that my residence has changed and how do the tax offices get notified/know of this change? Is there a referred-to record for this? What stops people from simply indicating a different residence?

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  • Have you ever filed taxes for yourself (i.e. not using a preparer), or are you about to file for the first time?
    – shoover
    Jul 8 '20 at 22:36
  • @shoover I have always used a preparer. I am asking about when I file for 2020 taxes in 2021
    – Runeaway3
    Jul 9 '20 at 20:03
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My employer withholds appropriate local taxes based on where I have indicated to them my residence is. Outside of this employer-held record though, what is telling the appropriate local tax office that I am resident?

I have reformatted this answer to focus on the local tax issue only.

Local taxes vary a lot. Some tax tax income, others tax property, some tax both.

You do leave records with the state you are living in. These records will be used by the tax authorities when looking for people who might not be paying their taxes.

This includes drivers license or DMV photo-ID for those who don't drive. If you registered to vote, the local jurisdiction will know about you. If you registered your car they will know your car lives in the county, and that you own it.

Local governments look for cars parked in their jurisdictions that have out of state tags. In some states the city/county has a tax sticker, they look for those missing stickers or a sticker that doesn't match the county. They expect that they are people avoiding registering with the state or local authorities. The local government care about these vehicles because the state funding linked to population depends on it. There can also be town/county/city taxes they want to collect.

For example, if I earn money through capital gains there is no automatic withholding. When it comes time to file, what is preventing me from simply indicating a different residence with a lower tax rate?

The state and federal tax forms that you submit have your address. The state government will direct your tax information to the local jurisdiction.

the question is really more geared at what happens when I move... who do I tell that my residence has changed and how do the tax offices get notified/know of this change? Is there a referred-to record for this? What stops people from simply indicating a different residence?

When you move you need to update your drivers license, you register your car, you register to vote. Those changes will let the new place know about you. If you are buying a place the home ownership will also let the local tax authority know that you should be paying property tax.

Failure to do these changes has consequences. You need look at the state and local government webpages for information about the required changes and deadlines. Missing the deadline can have monetary costs.

Missing deadlines can also have non-monetary costs. If you want to send your children to public school, you will need to prove that you live the jurisdiction by presenting state documents, and even something like a lease or a utility bill. The new requirements for Real-ID will make it so this level of proof is needed just to get the ID from DMV.

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  • A lot of your answer seems to be directed at differences between states. I am looking at municipal/local taxes specifically, within the same state. I have updated my question to make this more clear
    – Runeaway3
    Jul 9 '20 at 20:16
  • Changed the focus of the answer to deal with county to county moves. Jul 9 '20 at 20:58

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