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Division of Taxation

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Nonmilitary Spouses/Civil Union Partners of Military Personnel

There are special tax rules for a nonmilitary spouse (or civil union partner) of a member of the Armed Forces.

To understand those rules, you need to know your domicile.

If New Jersey was your domicile when you married (entered into a civil union), you remain a resident for Income Tax purposes unless you meet the three qualifications for nonresident status. As a resident, you must file a resident return (Form NJ-1040) if you meet the income filing requirements during the year.

Under the federal Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (P.L. 111-97), a military service member's nonmilitary spouse/civil union partner is allowed to keep a tax domicile while moving from state to state, as long as they move into a state to be with a spouse/civil union partner who is in the state on military orders.

Note: For Tax Years 2018 and forward, spouses of military personnel can choose the same legal residence as the service member for state and local tax purposes. Spouses can make this choice even if they:

  • Never lived in that state; or
  • Did not live with the service member spouse during the year.
If you were a resident of another state, meaning your domicile was outside New Jersey, when you married (entered into a civil union), you are not considered a resident of New Jersey if:

  • The principal reason for moving to this state was the transfer of your military spouse/civil union partner; and
  • You maintain a domicile in another state; and
  • You intend to leave New Jersey when your military spouse/civil union partner is transferred or leaves the service.

If you meet these requirements, you are not subject to New Jersey Income Tax on earned income from services performed in New Jersey. However, you are subject to tax on all other types of income from New Jersey sources, such as a gain from the sale of property located in New Jersey.

To claim an exemption from New Jersey Income Tax withholding, file Form NJ-165, Employee’s Certificate of Nonresidence in New Jersey, with your employer. This will stop your employer from withholding New Jersey Income Tax. However, you must notify your employer if conditions for the withholding exemption no longer apply.

If New Jersey Income Tax was withheld in error from your wages or you made estimated tax payments in error, you must file a New Jersey nonresident return (Form NJ-1040NR) to get a refund. The income section of the New Jersey nonresident return has two columns: Column A, income from everywhere, and Column B, income from New Jersey sources. If you (and your military spouse/civil union partner if filing a joint return) had no income from New Jersey sources other than your own New Jersey wages, complete your nonresident return as follows:

  • Enter in Column A the amount of your income from everywhere (if filing a joint return, do not include the military pay of your spouse/civil union partner).
  • Enter zeros on the wages line and gross income line in Column B for the amount of income from New Jersey sources.
  • Enter the amount of New Jersey Income Tax withheld or estimated taxes paid on the appropriate line and complete the "overpayment" and "refund" lines.
  • Enclose a statement of explanation that references the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act along with a copy of your spousal military identification card. If filing a paper return, print “Military Spouse” in ink at the top of the return.

Note: Wages earned in New Jersey by a nonresident civilian spouse/civil union partner who lives outside New Jersey are subject to New Jersey Income Tax. A nonresident civilian spouse/civil union partner who lives outside New Jersey cannot use Form NJ-165 to claim an exemption from New Jersey Income Tax withholding on wages earned in this state.

More information on Income Tax Filing Requirements is available. For additional information on military personnel, see Tax Topic Bulletin GIT-7, Military Personnel.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 10/07/20