This article is written by Himanshu Goyal from SVKM’s NMIMS University, Bengaluru. This is an exhaustive article which deals with tax implications applicable for out-of-state workers leaving California.


The scope to write this article is whether you can save taxes by moving out of California. California is known for its exorbitant taxation policy. This includes common taxes on property, sales, individual and corporate income, and other charges that governments have tacked on over the years for hospitals, highways, and schools. Personal income tax rates are the highest in the country, with sales tax rates and corporate taxes rounding out the top ten. California’s 13.3 percent personal income tax is the highest of the 50 states, and the company’s 8.84 per cent tax rate is near the top. 

In California, a consumption tax is levied on the storage, use, or other use of personal property purchased from the seller. Any person who stores, uses per cent centre employer-based, or otherwise uses movable property purchased from a merchant in California is generally liable for the use of the property. While sellers are subject to sales tax, consumers are subject to usage tax. Moreover, the government has proposed changes to parental/child exemptions from residential property assessments that will remove the $ 1 million lifespan wage on all assets. Children receiving parental property used as primary residences will still be able to pay property taxes at lower market prices.

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Whether relocation saves tax

Many people believe that leaving California will save them and their businesses money in taxes. The beauty of the landscape may change, but the tax bill remains the same for many.

Non-resident’s income

The state has the authority to tax everyone who is just starting the business. There have been cases where a high-paid member of a married couple leaves, abandoning their partners, after discovering that public property laws disrupt the system. Even if a person no longer resides in California, California can still tax them on these Californian sources of income. If California finds that you are a resident, it can tax you on all of your income regardless of source. Based on legislation FTB PUB 100.

As a result, if most of the taxpayer’s income is earned in California, the expected tax revenue may not be realised. Non-paid residents have significant or complex ties to California, such as overseas owned businesses, vacation homes where they spend most of the year, contracts with start-up development companies that claim interest as compensation, or a spouse who lives in California. Non-residents who plan to retire in California following a major unpaid payment event, particularly if they already have many California contacts who put them at risk of finding unfavourable accommodations, can benefit. Non-Californians are only taxed in California on income earned within the state.

Business operations 

Businesses face similar difficulties. Taxpayers frequently believe that by relocating or establishing a token office in a low-tax area, they will avoid paying California income tax. However, the majority of the time, real business operations determine when the company pays taxes. It is impossible to achieve meaningful tax savings if relocating a business does not fundamentally change its performance or customer base. California, like many other states, employs a single formula for marketing facto segregation. This means that California raises business tax revenue by a small amount. California sales are divided by total sales. The amount paid is taxed in California. The legislation which is used in California for this is AB-150 Sales and Use Tax Law

Of course, there are exceptions to the rules in which migration may decrease the California tax. Each case will be unique. That is why, before committing to travel, business leaders should consult with their accountants to simulate how the action will affect their California tax debt.

If you can prove that you are no longer a California resident, you will only be taxed as a half-year resident for the months of the previous year. The legislation which is used in California for this is AB-150 Sales and Use Tax Law. However, even if your transit appears to be temporary and does not comply with the port’s safety rules, you are still a permanent resident.

So, if you are planning to leave California and want to know if you are no longer a California resident for tax purposes, the following actions may indicate that your departure is not temporary:

  • Selling your home or terminating your lease agreement
  • Take your belongings instead of leaving them in the California warehouse
  • Changing your driver’s licence to your new country
  • Enrolling your children in local schools
  • Registering to vote in your new country

Even if your job or business follows you, you should remain in California indefinitely to avoid additional taxes from the state.

Wealth taxes

California’s wealth tax of 13.3 per cent is the highest of the 50 states. The California legislature passed Assembly Bill 310 in 2020 that would implement the first national wealth tax, a 0.4 per cent annual tax on assets worth more than $30 million. The constitutionality of this ten-year provision is questionable. So, the Bill did not pass. Assembly Bill 310 was introduced in its current form in the California Legislature on March 25, 2021, and would apply to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2022. Previously a spot Bill relating to public banks, the Bill as amended would impose a 1% tax on a California resident’s “worldwide net worth” greater than $50 million (or $25 million if married filing separately), and a 1.5 % tax on residents with a worldwide net worth greater than $1 billion (or $500 million if filing separately) for “sustaining excessive accumulations of wealth as a result of excessive. AB 310 was given where the wealth tax would apply to all California residents, part-year residents, and temporary residents who meet the wealth as mentioned above thresholds. Individuals who spend more than 60 days in California during the current taxable year and have spent at least 120 days in the state in the previous two taxable years or at least 150 days in the last four taxable years are considered temporary residents for tax purposes.

Those who are already looking to live outside  California should take a look at what is going on. It would be in their best interests to leave the state before such a tax is enacted, especially if it does not apply to those who travel before the tax is enacted. 

Even if you successfully prove that you are no longer a resident, you may still owe tax on a portion of your income if your spouse continues to reside in the state because community property laws treat half of your income as your spouse’s. We can say that leaving the country without proper planning can lead to tax evasion, which you attempt to avoid. With all of these complaints, it is not surprising that many people have considered leaving California in search of nearby tax havens, especially since California lawmakers have proposed several tax increases, including a per-capita high of 16.8 percent and a 0.4 per cent property tax increase.

Taxpayers should be aware of the implications

To walk away from all of the facts that must be managed under applicable law, taxpayers frequently require a checklist based on their status. This could include deleting or reducing financial accounts, as well as relocating financial accounts to California. Understanding the law, keeping documentation up to date, having an exit strategy, and avoiding fees and penalties are essential considerations for taxpayers.

Second, if your income is primarily derived from California, changing the residence provides no benefit. Remember, regardless of where you live, non-citizens must pay taxes on the income earned in California. Similarly, relocating makes economic sense only if a low-income taxpayer can be compensated in California. Similarly, if most of your business customers are in California, running a business may not result in significant tax savings because of the income generated.

Third, California has the highest national tax rates. There is usually a tiny difference in tax rates between California and the lower tax districts among the middle brackets, while others claim a higher level between frames. Furthermore, income tax is not the only tax levied in the city. The majority of the low-tax provinces have high property taxes.

Does this method help in saving tax

It is common knowledge that California has high taxes. It is impossible to achieve meaningful tax savings if relocating a business does not fundamentally change its performance or customer base. If most of the taxpayer’s income is earned in California, the anticipated tax revenue may not be saved. It is also widely reported that it is elementary for all residents to flee from the state if they save a lot of money on their taxes.

Legal implications for violation of rules

Acceptance of illegal expenses or developments is known to be treated as a form of compensation by state prosecutors. The officer is now charged with income tax evasion because he failed to report such payments on his tax returns. The Internal Revenue Code is notorious, and its penalties are severe. A typical sentence for intentional tax evasion is a $ 100,000 fine, up to five years in prison, or both. Those found guilty and obligated to pay the prosecution’s costs. Late filing of California sales tax returns may result in late instalment fees and interest on any unpaid taxes. There are several reasons why your tax payment may be subject to interest and fines, including a missed payment deadline, failure to file a charge, operating an unlicensed business, or failing to keep track of tax revenue. Sections 861 to 865 of the Internal Revenue Code (including Section 864, which deals with specific definitions and rules) do not apply to the California franchise or income tax purposes. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s  75 publications provide more precise information on interest, fees, and costs associated with audited expenses; give you a reprieve. You may, however, be required to provide evidence to back your claim.

California guidelines in the pandemic of Covid-19

Employees who work for an employer-based outside of California are issued a Form W-2 by that employer. Due to COVID-19, they temporarily relocated to California for telework. Employees with California-source income have California-source income during the period they perform services in California as non-residents who relocate to California for any portion of the year. As a result, they must file Form 540NR, California Nonresident or Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return, to report the California-sourced portion of their compensation.

According to the FTB, one method of calculating the portion of income that is California-sourced is to multiply the total amount of the employee’s income for the year by a ratio of their total number of days performing services in California over their total number of days performing services globally.

If they performed services in California for wages, these employees must file California personal income tax returns. The location of an employee’s performance of services (rather than the location of the employer) determines how they file their California taxes. Independent contractors relocate to California for a limited time and have no prior source of income from the state. If non-resident independent contractors income was not previously considered California-sourced, simply relocating temporarily to California would not result in California-source income. However, if a customer receives the benefit of their services in California, they must file a California personal income tax return. Independent contractors’ California-source income is calculated by looking at where the benefit of the service is received.


By relocating to a more advantageous location, California residents and businesses can significantly reduce state and local taxes. Tax evasion is not a cure-all; each taxpayer must carefully consider whether migration reduces California’s tax burden. Non-residents earning in California may continue to be taxed in California. Many businesses may not receive a California tax rebate on property reuse due to the distribution of a single sales feature in California. Changing one’s address necessitates careful planning, execution, and documentation. Changes in resettlement should be considered well in advance of the events that generate money. California tax revenue is used to fund government roads, public schools, the California Highway Patrol, water infrastructure, courts, and other projects that significantly impact the lives of Californians. While no one enjoys paying taxes, it is a necessary trade-off that allows the government to provide essential services and keep the peace.



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