The Utah Supreme Court ruled for taxpayers John and Brooke Buck, finding they were not domiciled in Utah during tax year 2012. The Court held that the State Tax Commission had incorrectly applied Utah’s statutory domicile presumption that attaches when a taxpayer claims a residential exemption for property tax purposes. As addressed in more detail in our previous coverage here, the taxpayers presented significant evidence to rebut the presumption, including showing that they had relocated to Florida in 2011 and that neither the husband nor the wife spent more than 22 days in Utah during 2012.
A Utah statute provides a rebuttable presumption that an individual is domiciled in the state if the taxpayer claims the residential exemption for property tax purposes for the individual or individual’s spouse’s primary residence. The State Tax Commission had narrowly interpreted the types of evidence taxpayers could present to rebut the presumption, limiting the evidence to the taxpayer’s actions or inactions related to the residential property tax exemption itself. The Supreme Court ruled that the Commission erred in that interpretation, because it was contrary to the statute and effectively precluded taxpayers from being able to overcome the presumption. The Court explained that because the presumption is rebuttable taxpayers should have a meaningful opportunity to rebut the presumption by producing evidence of the totality of circumstances relevant to their domicile, including for example, the state in which they held drivers’ licenses, the state in which they worked, and the state in which their children attended school. As the taxpayers provided significant evidence that their domicile was Florida, the Court ruled they were Utah nonresidents in 2012.