Monday, December 31, 2007


The following was initially received as a comment to my post “ASK THE TAX PRO – HOLIDAY TWO-FOR-ONE SPECIAL!” – the second question. It was a follow-up to my answer by the person who had originally posed the question. Rather than treat it as a comment, where my response might get overlooked by many, I decided to respond in a post.

COMMENT: My question was the one about living in Florida but being taxed by Louisiana. Thanks very much for taking the time to answer it. I'd just like to address some of the questions raised in your answer. I should have thought to mention them in the beginning as it would no doubt have helped you in your answer.
The job I held in 2004 was actually for a cruise line. I lived and worked on board a cruise ship, and have done so since 2001. The cruise line is a Panamanian registered corporation. The company however is located in Miami, Florida. This means that I could have mail sent to me directly at the ship, or through the Miami office. The W-2 from the cruise line had my families home address listed because that's what I gave them in 2001 when I started with them. I also had a PO Box in Louisiana to which most of my mail was sent. This was the address that was on my federal forms for 2004. My cruise ship toured the Caribbean and the west coast of the states, so my mailing address was wherever the ship was. I had most of my mail sent to the PO Box so that my father could check it for me once in a while, and send me the contents to the ship address.
When I originally filed my 2004 LA taxes in 2006 (when I found out I had to) I had already changed my license to a Florida one, and used my cruise lines office address as this was the closet thing to a "residency" I had living on the ocean. So they were filed with my Florida address. However, for 2004 they would have used the address they had on file for me, which would have been either my family’s home address from my Louisiana license, or my PO Box address from the federal return.

I know this is all quite confusing, more so for me as I’ve had so many different answers from so many people, especially the Revenue Departments, who claimed I was a resident because of my Louisiana license, and PO Box. Yet yesterday, someone from the same Louisiana Revenue Office said I would "not" be considered a resident for having a Louisiana license and PO Box! It never ends!!
Hope these unfortunately lengthy answers clear up some questions. Thanks again for your help!

MY RESPONSE: Sorry to be so long in addressing your comment.

Ah, so you lived and worked on a cruise ship! You lucky bastard – I am jealous.

During the 1980s after the end of the tax filing season I would pack a bag and my uncle and I would board a ship to cross the Atlantic. Often the ship was the famous QE2. I loved being “at sea”. My uncle has since gone to his final audit and now I celebrate the end of the tax season by recuperating in Ocean Grove NJ. I miss cruising and crossing – however the single supplement makes the cost of a cruise prohibitive. But I digress.

You were actually neither a resident of Florida or Louisiana. You lived on the cruise ship in 2004, and had done so for several years prior. Your employment was certainly not temporary in nature. I believe that the cruise ship was your domicile.

The fact that you had a Louisiana driver’s license or maintained a Post Office Box in Louisiana does not in itself make you a Louisiana resident. You did not maintain a permanent residence in the state. The use of either your parents’ address or your Louisiana Post Office Box for correspondence was reasonable in your particular situation.

I seem to recall reading somewhere about specific Tax Court or IRS guidance on either the “tax home” or “domicile” of a person employed full-time on a cruise ship. However I cannot remember where or when, and could not find any references from some quick online searches. If I find anything I will report on it in a future posting. Meanwhile –
does anyone out there know of any Tax Court decisions or Revenue Rulings or the like concerning the domicile of a person living and working on a cruise ship?

Off the top of my head, I believe that you were not a resident of Louisiana for 2004 and should not have paid Louisiana state income tax on your 2004 earnings.

In your situation I would file an amended 2004 Louisiana return indicating you were a full-year non-resident, reporting “0” Louisiana source income, and requesting a full refund of the tax paid. I would attach to the return an explanation of your situation, stating that you lived on a cruise ship continually from 2001 through 2004, you did not maintain a residence in Louisiana, and that the use of a Louisiana mailing address was merely for convenience based on your employment situation.

Does anyone have a different answer?

BTW – if you want to know what I will be doing on New Year’s Eve check out today’s post over at
ANYTHING BUT TAXES. A taste – part of the day will be spent typing W-2s!


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