By Robert P. Merten III and Timothy A. Gustafson

The California State Board of Equalization (BOE) has issued a rare ruling on residency topics, finding in favor of individual taxpayers on two issues. First, the BOE found that the taxpayers established domicile in Washington three months earlier than the Franchise Tax Board claimed, because they purchased a fully furnished $2.8 million home, registered to vote, registered automobiles and obtained driver’s licenses in the state. Although the taxpayers only spent six days in Washington and 64 days in California during the pertinent time frame, they sufficiently established that their time spent in California was only for a “temporary or transitory purpose” between post-retirement trips. Second, the BOE concluded that the taxpayers were not liable for $3.7 million in California income tax on payments from a California partnership made to liquidate the newly retired taxpayer’s partnership interest because such payments were non-taxable distributions as opposed to taxable distributive shares or guaranteed payments with a California source. Because the amount at issue was more than $500,000, the BOE must follow its ruling with a written decision. The BOE is currently considering whether the written opinion should take the form of a precedential formal memorandum or a non-precedential summary decision. If the former, then taxpayers will be provided with official BOE California residency guidance for the first time in years. Appeal of Michael J. and Mary E. Bills, Cal. St. Bd. of Equal. (heard May 28, 2015).