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Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)/Do I have to file state taxes if I work on a cruise ship?


Hi Mr. Stancil,  

I have been working as a musician on a cruise ship for the past year.  The itinerant nature of the work has caused me some confusion as to whether or not I need to file taxes in the handful of states I lived in during 2012, and if so, which one(s).  At the start of 2012 I was in New York (not working).  In February, I began a contract in Hawaii (for which I received a W-2 form and paid Hawaii state taxes).  My contract ended, and from June - August I lived in Oregon (not working).  From September - November, I was back in New York (not working).  In December, I started another contract.  I was paid in cash.  The company is based out of Florida, and that state is listed in box 15 on the W-2 form I received from them, but I have not paid any state taxes.  

I used the H&R Block website ( to file my taxes.  Since I indicated that I was not a resident of the two states listed on my W-2 forms (Hawaii and Florida), I was unable to file state taxes using the site.  So back to my original question - which state(s), if any, should I be filing taxes in?  Thanks!


Thanks for question. Things do get complicated when we move around, don't they?

First, let me give you a general rule.  You owe taxes on all your earnings to your state of residency.  You also owe taxes to a state in which you earn the income.

In your case, I would suggest filing as a non-resident in Hawall.  You did not have any income from the times you lived in New York and Oregon.  Florida does not have an income tax, so you don't have to file there.  You would be taxed only on your HI income.

Hope this helps.

John Stancil, CPA

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John Stancil, CPA


I can answer questions on personal income taxes, partnerships, and some corporate income taxes. I can deal with some state tax questions. Limited gift and estate tax questions. I am also familiar with ministerial and church tax reporting issues. I am Professor Emeritus at Florida Southern College. Sales taxes and property taxes are state and local issues so I am not likely be be able to give you an in depth answer on those types of taxes. I have maintained a CPA practice, specializing in tax, for over 35 years. I am a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals, The Florida Insititute of CPA's, The NCPE Fellowship. In addition I am a Certified Mentor for SCORE. Visit my website at I also offer seminars and consultations to churches and clergy on their tax issues at Also visit my blog, I am listed on Tax Connections at Prepare and file your own taxes at


I hold a doctorate in Accounting, and am a CPA. My certifications of CIA, CFM, and CMA are inactive. I passed all certification examinations on the first attempt, and received honorable mention for my scores on the CIA exam. I have operated a CPA firm for over 37 years and have taught accounting and tax at the college level for over 35 years.

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The CPA Journal, Florida CPA Today, Green Consumer, Green Business, Global Sustainability as a Business Imperative, Palmetto Review, NATP TaxPro Quarterly, Mustang Journal of Finance and Accounting.

DBA University of Memphis MBA University of Georgia BS in Accounting Mars Hill University

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