How To Escape Your State Taxes (A semi- FOIA story)

This is a primer on how to commit tax fraud, in order to get out of incurring Maryland state taxes.  This method is currently in use, and it WORKS.  While I don’t condone committing tax fraud, I do believe that this method of publicizing it is one of the best ways of having the loophole closed.  That is the goal:

 

People have a negative connotation about the word “hacker”. Having myself been the victim of having my cell phone account with Sprint and my websites hacked within the past year, I must confess that I too had a negative perception of them. Since then, I have come to learn the value of being hacked. Yes, it’s a hassle to repair what is damaged, but that’s where the beauty lies. Being hacked shows you where you are weak. It is with that in mind that I decided to do this Life Hack. According to Wikipedia, a life hack is “..any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency..”. Yep, this qualifies as one.

First, you must pick a state that has no state tax filing requirement. There are a few of them out there, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s go with Florida. Now, Florida has 67 counties, so I am going to just pick one: Broward County. It’s a lovely county, probably best known for Fort Lauderdale. So now you will need to create a cover story that will make it look like you are a part of Florida.

According to THIS WEBSITE , the Florida Statute says that in order to establish residency, it is helpful to have a few things:

Have a child registered for school there

Record a formal declaration of domicile with the Circuit Court

Register to vote there

Get a Florida driver’s license

Put a Florida address on your federal tax return

Have your bank statements going to a Florida address

You don’t have to do ALL of these things, but the more of them that you do the more it will appear as though you are a legitimate Floridian. So, let’s pick two of the things that would seem to be the hardest to do: register to vote and get a Florida driver’s license. That seems difficult, right?

According to Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections website, there is “no specific time requirement to live in Florida to be considered a permanent resident” . BONUS: you can do it at a driver’s license office! That same website indicates that you need an address of legal residence and either a Florida driver’s license or the last 4 of your SSN and signature. The same website has an online Voter Registration Form,and in the instructions, it says that “If you are registering by mail, you have never voted in Florida, and you have not been issued a Florida driver’s license..you will be required to provide additional identification prior to voting the first time. “ It seems to say that you will have your registration, but just won’t be able to actually vote until you show the proof. Okay, cool. But if you give them a copy of your passport (no address will be on that) and bank statement, you are golden.

So, it starts with having an address where mail like bank statements can go. Hmmm. Oh, there’s a solution for that! How about one of those mailbox places? And look, here’s one! Parcels Plus, right in Broward County. Now, the reason that one was chosen is because they offer a very special feature which I will show you in a moment. Parcels Plus, located at 2637 E. Atlantic Blvd, Pompano Beach, FL provides you with the convenience of being able to use a street address instead of a P.O. Box. That comes in handy for when you need to do things like have a mailing address for bank statements and your voter registration. So, we’ll just put in that address in box 8 of the form. Why Parcels Plus? Because as you will see HERE, for the low low price of just 9.99 per month, you can use their address and have up to 30 pieces of mail scanned and forwarded to your inbox without having to step foot into their facility! A bargain!

So now, what about the “legal residence” address for box 7? You can handle this one of two ways: you can probably use the same address as the Parcels Plus since it isn’t a P.O. Box like the voter instructions warn you can’t use. Or… since Florida has THE greatest number of timeshare facilities in the country, spend a few bucks and get one! Yes, get one for a very important bonus reason: your one week timeshare WILL get recorded in the deed system for the county, therefore making it appear to the non-scrutinizing eye to be a place where you reside year-round. There is no shortage of timeshares to find for resale. HERE’S one for only $750 in Ft. Lauderdale. So, there’s your address. It goes in box 7. None of the rest of the info requested on the voter application is as relevant as the above in terms of residency.

I know what you’re saying: “this isn’t possible, and it can’t be done”. Well, that’s not entirely true. HERE is a story of 3000 “Florida voters” who were using a UPS Store address for their registrations. As of January 1, 2010, Florida enacted new laws that required identification, proof of date of birth, proof of residential address, and proof of social security number in order to get a driver’s license.

Date of birth: birth certificate can do it

Proof of social security number: SS card, W-2 or pay stub can do it

Proof of address: need 2, and it can be Mail from financial institution and mail from federal or state agency, W-2, voter registration card, or deed.

See for yourself. (http://www.gathergoget.com/)

Aren’t you wondering by now if Florida Motor Vehicles has a bunch of people all with that same address of 2637 E. Atlantic Blvd, Pompano, FL? I wonder how many other mailbox drops fulfill the same purpose?

One last thing. In honor of it being Sunshine Week, I thought I would take this opportunity to showcase a Florida FOIA request that worked out great! The Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections was contacted a few years ago about some Maryland residents that were using their county as their domicile for voting purposes. They were fantastic with their responses, providing a copy of individual voting registration forms as well as the entire list of registered voters in their county that were all using the same address. It was a slightly different scenario, because the address they were all using was the address for the Okaloosa courthouse, but the numbers are astounding for the number of people with Maryland mailing addresses voting with absentee ballots who have used that courthouse address over the years. Some legitimately, and some not.

Here is page one out of 10 total, with names having been sorted alphabetically:

there are about 33 names on each page, which makes almost 330 names. That’s just the number using the courthouse address. There were many others that had other Florida addresses. The cost for the Excel spreadsheet from Okaloosa? $4.50. That’s just ONE county out of 67!

You can also get a copy of the actual voter registration form, if you wish, along with the history for a voter for which elections they participated in,and how they voted (at the precinct or by absentee or not at all). Fascinating information, that is ALL public.

Maryland, isn’t there some sort of program you can write and run that will take the information from Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration and the deed system and somehow compile them together to inform you about people who are acting like Maryland residents (using the services as if they are one) but not filing state returns? Can’t you just cross-reference it with the Excel spreadsheet from each county? I don’t know, but with all of the discussion I see about data collection, etc., it just seems that the technology is certainly there? I’ve considered doing a full test for this post, and registering to vote in Broward County using that address (as I know someone to be doing), but I didn’t want to commit voter fraud in a state that already sees its’ fair share of stories about it. I wonder how many people are?

Hope that this increases efficiency, productivity and badly-needed Maryland revenues. And maybe there’s a contact in Florida who will also be interested in checking this out?

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8 Comments

  1. And thank you for the tip! Tired of Maryland being in my pocket for tax money, and I would love to stay for a few days down in Florida to set up my new address to get out of paying them.

  2. People are complaining about maryland being in their pocket with the taxes. It seems like it is a systemic issue with money being needed in order to do enforcement, and budget cuts affecting the enforcement and therefore THE MONEY. It’s not fair for me to pay more than my share bcuz of people exploiting loopholes. Hope Hogan is paying attention to this.

  3. If Maryland cared about these tax deadbeats, they would up the budget numbers so that people could be pursued. Until they do, they will get away with wha they are doing.

  4. A win and good story for FOIA and open gov. This is why the door to public information needs to remain wide open instead of being jammed by policy obstructions.

  5. U should have done the test and saved yourself tax money for your services. If maryland doesn’t care about it, then why should u?

  6. By the time maryland catches on to this, the next wave of tax evasion tactics will have taken hold. Governmnt always moves so so slow.

  7. Thanks for the tip! Maryland is known for high taxes so this will help balance things out. I can’t feel bad about it.

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