Residency is an important issue when determining the effect of such things as eligibility for tax credits and paying in-state or out-of-state tuition. Ohio generally utilizes two tests to determine residency: a domicile test and a contact-period test. The tests are fact-determinative; you must analyze how the rules apply to your specific situation.
If you lived in Ohio for the entire year, you are generally considered a resident — at least for income tax purposes. The Ohio State University also considers you a resident if you lived in Ohio for 12 consecutive months immediately preceding enrollment in that school. Absent living in Ohio for the entire year, you may nonetheless be an Ohio resident if Ohio is your domicile. As cited on the website of the Ohio Legislative Service Commission in Sub. H.B. 73 of the 126th General Assembly, Black's Law Dictionary states that a domicile is a permanent place that you consider home and one that you intend to return to and remain at indefinitely, even if you may stay elsewhere during the year. Owning a home in Ohio, working in that state and having an Ohio driver's license may be strong indicators that Ohio is your domicile.
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Ohio also uses a contact-period test to determine residency. As of June 2011, you are a presumed resident of Ohio if you spent more than 182 contact periods in the state during the year. According to Section 5747.24 of the Ohio Revised Code, a contact period is staying overnight from your abode, which is in a place located outside of Ohio, and spending at least some portion, however minimal, of two consecutive days in Ohio. If you have a home in Indiana, for example, and you stay overnight and spend at least two consecutive days in Ohio, that equals one contact period. If you do this at least 183 times during the year, you are a presumed resident of Ohio.
If you don't know whether you are a resident, you must meet four requirements to be a nonresident. You must have at least one abode outside of Ohio, spend no more than 182 contact periods in Ohio and are not a part-year resident of Ohio. Lastly, you must file an affidavit or notice of non-Ohio domicile by June 1 of the tax year; the affidavit cannot contain any untrue statements.
Determining residency turns on your specific circumstances. For example, not every contact counts toward the contact test. If you spent time in Ohio for a funeral or to raise funds for a charitable organization, for instance, those contact periods are exempt. Whether you are an Ohio resident can have significant tax and financial consequences. Consider speaking to an attorney if you have any questions regarding your residency.