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Pros and cons of becoming a legal state resident

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Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 1:00 pm | Updated: 11:51 pm, Sat Jan 26, 2013.

After serving 30 years in the military, including the last three as the base commander at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Col. Dan Choike can now call himself a Virginian.  The Michigan native, who has traveled the world, will reside in Virginia. The former base commander applied to become a Virginia resident at the mobile Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles on May 15, just a few days before he officially retired on Friday.

It’s uncommon for Marines aboard Quantico to change their permanent residence to where they’re stationed unless they plan to leave the Corps or retire.

“In the past year only 87 Marines at Quantico have changed their legal residence to Virginia,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Darren Anderson, director of the Installation Personnel Administration Center at Quantico. There are 3,808 Marines stationed aboard Quantico.

Very few Marines change residency to Virginia simply because they don’t have to. The Service Members Civil Relief Act allows service members to register vehicles, vote and pay taxes in their state of legal residence rather than in the state they are stationed.

A benefit of keeping state of legal residence could be lower state taxes. However, if Marines want to change their legal residency to Virginia, the military is required to make sure service members aren’t changing their residency for the sole purpose of a tax advantage.  

Military members are required to submit a State of Legal Residence Certificate to IPAC.

Anderson said that a Marine’s “domicile and/or legal residence is the place where one has lived and formed the intent to remain for the indefinite future and return when temporarily absent.”

IPAC validates a Marine’s legal residency by examining where they vote, own property, hold professional licenses and pay taxes.

Once the service members are cleared through IPAC, they can register for legal residency at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles by showing proof of residency, such as a residential lease or bill, returning their old license and showing proof of identity.

Military spouses aren’t involved in the IPAC process, but Anderson said they follow a similar process.

“Although the IPAC does not provide service to military spouses on state tax changes, the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act was enacted in tax year 2009,” said Anderson.

The act allows military spouses to have similar rights as their active duty counterparts. Military couples who both claim Virginia as their legal residence don’t experience much change. But couples with mixed residency will have to file taxes


“One advantage of becoming a legal resident of Virginia is that it allows you to take a more active role in community affairs, including voting in local and state elections, “said Capt. Antonio Contreras, civil law officer aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The military allows service members to receive benefits regardless of their residency status. For example, Marines can receive in-state tuition in any state in the U.S.

But the former base commander doesn’t seem to be too worried about benefits.  Instead, he’s thinking about turning back the hands of time.

“I heard you guys were going to make me look 10 years younger on my new license,” Choike said to DMV customer service representative with a chuckle

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