After forty some years of systematically contributing a six-figure amount to the State of Minnesota, its counties and school systems; is it wrong to jump ship and choose residency in the state of South Dakota?
We have been living in a travel trailer for sixteen months. Within the RV community that qualifies us for what is commonly known as – Full Timers. The question of how we get our mail will sometimes pop up from those who are also traveling this most wonderful country.
For three months I questioned other full timers, did some internet research, and made several calls before I settled on a mail forwarding service. Mail forwarding services are plentiful, and can be found in every state. You can even contract with the U.S. postal service to hold your mail long term, and forward it when needed, at a very premium cost of course.
I was also very intrigued with the idea of making our retirement dollars stretch a little further, by reducing our taxes. There are nine states that do not collect income tax, Florida, Texas, and South Dakota were on my short list. They all somehow operate their state budgets without collecting state income tax, interesting. What pulled South Dakota to the top of my list is the resident requirements. Once every five years you have to stay twenty-four hours in the state, a receipt from a hotel or RV park is your proof. The purpose of this every five-year pilgrimage, is to renew your SD drivers license. In order for this tax saving’s idea to work, we had to be comfortable with divesting ourselves from all our hard asset ownership connected with Minnesota. That was pretty easy to do, after all, selling the house and becoming full timers was already in the plan.
If you have read to this point, and are still interested in this post, here is my disclaimer. I’m simply sharing what I did, your situation may be different, and this post is not intended for tax advice, or come across as a life changing event. The great life changing event happens when we take our last breath, mind you, the direction of our eternal spirit is pre-determined. Choose wisely. The financial tax stuff, and all the, “It’s only stuff” stuff we hear about is left for the executor to clean up. Choose wisely.
I chose Americas Mailbox as our mail forwarding service. They offer different levels of mail service; I went with the Gold plan. I suspect our annual charge including postage is about $350.00. Their website not only covers the mail service, but also details a step by step process on how to become a SD resident, and how to register your vehicles with SD.
The process worked. While still living in MN, but having a SD mailing address I purchased a truck in MN, registered it in SD, and paid SD auto sales tax which is 2.5% less than MN. FYI, I worked directly with the SD DMV for registering, and licensing the truck and trailer. For a fee Americas Mailbox will do it for you. I wonder – – – maybe I am a control freak?
After it’s all said and done, choosing a mail service, setting up residency, registering the vehicles, and the annual license plate renewal, I have discovered that South Dakota state employees are very user friendly.
The Crew at Americas Mailbox has also been very helpful, and easy to work with. If you contact them drop my name, and PMB #10414. PMB stands for private mail box. The United States Postal Service reserves “PO Box” for the boxes located at USPS post offices. Americas Mailbox does allow the use of APT #10414, instead of PMB. That comes in handy when sharing address’ with friends and family. However government agencies, and some financial companies will want to see PMB. If I had it all to do it all over again, I would simply go with the PMB designation on everything.
So, this is how it all went down. With our legal SD address, and recently purchased, temporarily licensed RAM truck, we locked the door on our MN home, went to the realtor closing with the travel trailer in tow. We signed some papers, and picked up a check, and went to a bank. We camped at a local county park for three days while saying farewells to friends and family. Then we hit the interstate, and drove to Sioux Falls, SD. On the way to SD Deb booked a reservation at Big Sioux Recreation near Sioux Falls, and the next morning we searched out the DMV office.
The facility was easy to find, the staff pleasant to work with, and the process took less than an hour. Silly me I asked for my motorcycle endorsement after Trina had already compiled my information. I could tell she was a somewhat miffed with me, so I put on my, “Lost old man face” and got a little extra grace.
Wendy, our first contact at the DMV located at 2501 W Russell ST, Sioux Falls, SD sat and visited with us while my license was being manufactured. The licenses were printed on sight. How cool is that? Wendy said they process between 250 and 400 individuals a day, mostly renewals and vehicle registrations. Bottom line is it all worked super well.
I had consulted with our tax person during this whole becoming a SD resident thing, and when it came to filling or 2018 taxes, all income received after we obtained our SD drivers license was not subject to state income tax. Federal yes, state no.
If you are still reading this post, and are considering a SD residency I.D. I caution you to not take this too lightly. There were many legal hoops to jump though, including mailing photo copies of passports, drivers’ licenses, and affidavits. Give yourself lots of time, weeks if not months for completion. BTW – going with the Americas Mailbox Gold plan, they will discard all junk mail and only forward first-class postage items. I do have to remain diligent and contact companies requesting to be placed on a, “Do not mail” list. For example, I’ve become a Good Sam member, and of course the good people at Good Sam’s, want to be good sales people. They, along with other good vendors will send very good, slick, glossy, sales brochures, for their good products. Good grief!