James R. Hellerman



On February 3, 2015, the Department assessed the Taxpayer for personal income tax, penalty and interest for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 tax years.  On February 11, 2015, the Taxpayer filed a protest to the assessment.  The Taxpayer admitted that he and his wife were residents of New Mexico from 2000 until 2008.  The Taxpayer and his wife jointly purchased a home in Lamy, New Mexico in 2005.  The relationship between the Taxpayer and his wife became strained, and they chose not to divorce or legally separate, but to live separately and remain married.  In 2008, the Taxpayer and his wife jointly purchased a second home in Tennessee.  The Taxpayer renovated that home to his specifications and the intention was for the Taxpayer to live at the Tennessee home while his wife remained in the Lamy home.  In 2008, the Taxpayer executed a last will and testament which was signed, executed and witnessed in New Mexico, and listed his wife as his sole heir.  In 2009, the Taxpayer obtained a Tennessee driver’s license.  The Taxpayer continued to register his vehicles in New Mexico until late 2013.  Throughout 2012 and 2013, the Taxpayer was living and working full-time in Tanzania, where he leased an apartment, bought a car, and obtained a driver’s license.  The Taxpayer was rarely in the United States.  When he did visit the United States, most of his time was spent with his wife, who also visited him in Tanzania.   In 2012, the Taxpayer’s wife died.  During the tax years in question, the majority of the Taxpayer’s mail was sent to the Lamy address and collected by his wife, and later a neighbor.  After his wife’s death, the Taxpayer continued to travel to New Mexico to deal with the estate and the sale of the Lamy home.  For several months after his wife’s death, the Taxpayer continued to house vehicles in New Mexico, and renewed the registrations in New Mexico in early 2013.  The Taxpayer conceded that he was liable for New Mexico personal income tax for 2011, so the issue to be decided at hearing was whether the Taxpayer was also liable for personal income tax, penalty and interest for the 2012 and 2013 tax years.  The Taxpayer argued that he intended to establish Tennessee as his home by moving there in 2008, doing substantial home renovations, and moving his prized African art collection there.  The Department argues that the Taxpayer’s intent was not sufficient.  He was an admitted resident of New Mexico for several years and continued to spend the majority of his time here while working abroad. The Department argues that the Taxpayer continued to treat New Mexico as his residence in a number of ways.  Regulation NMAC uses a number of criteria to determine domicile, and in this case the hearing officer found that the majority of those indicated that the Taxpayer was domiciled in New Mexico for the tax years in question.  The Taxpayer’s protest was denied.