Do expats from Illinois still need to pay state taxes?

Do expats from Illinois still need to pay state taxes?

If you’re an expat from Illinois, you might still need to pay state taxes, depending on your residency status. Illinois may consider you a resident for tax purposes, requiring you to pay taxes on your worldwide income.

Understanding residency and domicile is important. Residency is where you live, while domicile is your permanent home. Knowing the difference helps you avoid unexpected tax bills and comply with Illinois tax laws.


Yes, expats from Illinois may still need to pay state taxes depending on their residency status.

If Illinois remains your domicile and you haven’t established residency in different, you are considered an Illinois resident for tax purposes and must file state taxes on your worldwide income.

Illinois calculates state taxes based on your federal adjusted gross income (AGI), so any foreign income excluded on your federal return will also be excluded from your Illinois return.

However, if you are required to file a federal return, you must also file an Illinois state return.

The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) allows U.S. taxpayers living abroad to exclude up to $126,500 of foreign-earned income from their U.S. taxable income for the 2024 tax year.

This exclusion only applies to earned income, such as wages and salaries, and does not apply to passive income like interest, dividends, capital gains, and rental income.

To avoid state taxes, you must sever all ties with Illinois and establish a new domicile in another state.

Understanding Illinois's tax residency rules

Residency and domicile are critical in determining Illinois tax obligations. Residency refers to where you live, while domicile is your permanent home where you intend to return after any absence.


Domicile and Tax Status: If Illinois is your domicile, you are considered a resident for tax purposes. You must pay Illinois state taxes on your worldwide income, including foreign-earned income.

AGI and State Taxes: Illinois calculates state taxes based on your federal adjusted gross income (AGI). Any foreign income excluded on your federal return is also excluded from your Illinois return.

FEIE Benefits and Limitations: The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) allows you to exclude up to $126,500 of foreign-earned income from your U.S. taxable income for the 2024 tax year. This exclusion applies only to earned income like wages and salaries, not to passive income such as interest, dividends, capital gains, or rental income.


Nonresidents do not have Illinois as their domicile and do not maintain significant ties to the state. They are only taxed on income originating from Illinois sources, such as wages earned in Illinois or income from property located in the state.

Part-Year Resident

Part-year residents are taxed on all income earned while they were residents of Illinois. For the periods they were not residents, they are only taxed on Illinois-sourced income.

What constitutes Illinois-sourced income?

Understanding what constitutes Illinois-sourced income is essential for nonresidents and part-year residents to accurately determine your tax obligations.

Illinois-sourced income refers to any income derived from activities or assets located within the state. 

Here are some key categories to consider:

  • Wages and Salaries: Money earned for services performed in Illinois.
  • Business Income: Income from business activities conducted in Illinois.
  • Real Estate: Rental income from property located in Illinois.
  • Capital Gains: Profits from the sale of real estate or tangible property in Illinois.
  • Dividends and Interest: Dividends from Illinois-based companies and interest earned from Illinois financial institutions.
  • Pensions and Retirement Plans: Retirement income from Illinois institutions or for services performed in the state.

Why should you move domicile to a state with zero state income tax?

State income tax savings

High-income earners and retirees with significant income from investments, pensions, and other sources can benefit greatly from moving to states with no state income tax, such as Florida, Texas, and Nevada.

This move can result in substantial tax savings, especially for those with high annual incomes, who would otherwise face steep state tax bills in Illinois.

For individuals with income exceeding the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) limit of $126,500 in 2024, moving to a no-income-tax state can be particularly beneficial as it shields more of their income from state taxes.

Inheritance tax benefits

Moving domicile to a state with zero state income tax can offer additional benefits in terms of inheritance and estate taxes. While states like Florida, Texas, and Nevada do not have a state income tax, they also have favorable estate tax laws which can provide significant advantages for high-net-worth individuals looking to minimize their tax liabilities upon death.

Flexibility and mobility

Moving domicile to a no-income-tax state enhances flexibility and mobility, allowing individuals to travel or live in multiple locations without worrying about high state tax bills. This is ideal for high-income earners who may have business interests in different states or countries and for retirees who wish to spend their golden years exploring new places.

Moreover, the absence of state income taxes simplifies your tax filing process. You will only need to file federal taxes, reducing the complexity and potential for errors in your tax returns, making financial management more straightforward.

Florida Residency information

How to leave Illinois tax residency?

Here are the key steps to help you transition:

1) Establish new residency

  • Secure a Residential Address: Obtain a residential address in your new state. This is the most critical step in establishing a new domicile. You can use a domicile service that provides a residential address, assists with mail forwarding, and helps establish your new residency.
  • File a Declaration of Domicile if required: Some states, like Florida, require a formal declaration to confirm your new domicile.

Reference guides may provide additional help for specific states:

Best domiciles for Illinois expats

2) Sever ties with Illinois

  • Sell property: Consider selling or renting out property you own in Illinois to indicate you no longer have a significant connection to the state.
  • Transfer IDs and registrations: Update your driver’s license and vehicle registration to your new state. This demonstrates your commitment to your new domicile.
  • Register to vote: Register to vote in your new state. Voting registration is a strong indicator of your intent to establish residency.
  • Update personal documents: Change your address on all identification cards, medical records, insurance policies, financial documents, and other important records.

3) Notify relevant parties

  • Inform your employer: Notify your employer about your change of residency. This can affect how your income is taxed and helps establish your new domicile.
  • Notify the IRS: Inform the IRS of your address change using Form 8822. Extend this notification to all personal and professional entities.
  • Update all personal and professional entities: Inform banks, investment accounts, insurance companies, and other relevant entities about your change of address.

4) Keep detailed records

  • Maintain documentation: Keep receipts, bills, lease agreements, and other legal documents that prove your new residency. Detailed records are essential if your residency status is questioned.
  • Track your movements: Document your time spent in and out of Illinois. This includes travel records, utility bills, and any other documents that show your physical presence in your new state.

5) Be prepared for audit

  • Proof of permanent move: Be ready to provide comprehensive proof that you have permanently moved out of Illinois, including all documentation showing that you have established a new domicile and severed ties with Illinois.
  • Respond to inquiries: If the Illinois Department of Taxation questions your residency status, provide thorough responses and all necessary documentation promptly to avoid potential penalties.

Tax benefits and exemptions for expats from Illinois

Living abroad as an expat from Illinois comes with various federal tax credits that can help reduce your overall tax burden.

Here are some of the key federal tax credits available:

Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)

The FEIE allows you to exclude a significant portion of your foreign-earned income from U.S. federal income tax.

For the tax year 2024, you can exclude up to $126,500 of foreign-earned income from your U.S. federal and Illinois state taxable income.

To qualify, you must pass either:

  • Bona Fide Residency Test: You qualify if you are a resident of a foreign country for an uninterrupted period that includes an entire tax year.
  • Physical Presence Test: You qualify if you are physically present in a foreign country for at least 330 full days during a 12-month period.

FEIE Guide

Foreign Tax Credit (FTC)

The FTC helps you avoid double taxation by allowing you to take a credit for foreign taxes paid on income that is also subject to U.S. federal and Illinois state tax.

This is especially beneficial if you live in a high-tax country, as it can significantly reduce your federal and state tax liability.

FTC Guide

Foreign Housing Exclusion (FHE)

The FHE allows you to exclude certain housing expenses from your federal and state taxable income, including rent, utilities (excluding telephone), and other reasonable expenses related to housing abroad.

The amount you can exclude is limited to a base amount plus housing expenses exceeding 16% of the FEIE limit.

FHE Guide

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Filing Illinois state taxes from abroad

When filing Illinois state taxes from abroad, it's essential to determine your residency status and use the appropriate forms:

  • Form IL-1040: This is the primary form for filing your Illinois individual income tax return. If you are a full-year resident, you will report all income, regardless of where it is earned.
  • Schedule NR: This form is for nonresidents and part-year residents. It helps calculate the tax owed based on income earned while in Illinois and income from Illinois sources.


  • Standard Deadline: April 15. The deadline for filing Illinois state taxes aligns with the federal tax deadline. This is the due date for both filing your return and paying any taxes owed.
  • Automatic Extension for Expats: June 15. If you are living outside the U.S. on April 15, you may receive an automatic two-month extension to file your return and pay any amount due without requesting an extension, extending the deadline to June 15. However, interest on any unpaid taxes will accrue from the original April 15 deadline.
  • Additional Extension: October 15. You can request a further extension by filing Form 502E, Application for Extension of Time to File Personal Income Tax Return, typically extending the deadline to October 15. This extension is for filing your return only, not for paying any taxes owed. Interest on any unpaid taxes will continue to accrue from the original April 15 deadline.
  • Payment Deadlines. Regardless of filing extensions, any taxes owed must be paid by April 15 to avoid interest and late payment penalties. If you file an extension, ensure that your payment is postmarked by the due date to avoid additional charges.

Consequences of non-compliance with Illinois state tax laws

  • Late Filing Penalty: 5% of the unpaid tax per month, up to a maximum of 25%.
  • Late Payment Penalty: 0.5% of the unpaid tax per month, up to a maximum of 25%.
  • Interest Charges: Interest is charged on any unpaid tax from the original due date until the tax is paid in full, compounded daily.

Audits and Assessments

Illinois may conduct residency audits to verify your residency status and ensure proper tax compliance. During an audit, you must provide extensive documentation, such as proof of domicile and detailed financial records. Failure to provide adequate documentation can result in additional tax assessments and penalties.