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Most states are reluctant to let go of a resident for tax purposes. You are a Michigan resident if Michigan is your permanent home. Your permanent home is the place
you intend to return to whenever you go away. A temporary absence from Michigan, such as spending the winter in another state, does not make you a part-year resident.
Michigan law defines principal residence as the one place where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home to which, whenever absent he or
she intends to return and that shall continue as a principal residence until another principal residence is established. In order to verify a persons claim
that a particular property is a principal residence, Treasury will accept various documents that, taken together, establish that the person or persons filing the claim occupy the property as a principal residence. Examples include drivers license, voter registration card, canceled checks listing the property address, statements such as medical, bank
or charge accounts, income tax records indicating the mailing address and insurance policies. No one of these factors taken alone is controlling over any other factor. Documentation needs to verify occupancy between the periods of January 1 to Dec 31 of each year. Even when someone works in another state Michigan is going to assume they are still a resident of Michigan if they keep their property in Michigan and do not rent it out to someone else (this is listed under their home exemption guidelines).
Here is a question directly from their Frequently Asked Questions list for homeowners exemption;
"4. I own my home but rent an apartment closer
to my work. My apartment address is where I'm
registered to vote and is the address on my
driver's license. May I still claim my home?
No. Your apartment is considered your principal
residence. Because you vote in the township where
the apartment is located and the apartment is the
address on your driver's license."
Per the Michigan rules
(and federal does not trump state on this)
You are a Michigan resident if Michigan is your permanent home.
Your permanent home is the place you intend to return to whenever you go away. A temporary absence from Michigan, such as spending the winter in a southern state, does not make you a part-year resident.
Because you and your husband continued to files a joint return and you stayed in the permanent home they deem him as a resident as well because he kept his permanent home in Michigan.
You can continue your appeal but using the federal rules for tax home is not sufficient to show to Michigan the change of residency.
I wish I could tell you that they must change their mind on this,