April 17, 2005 – St. Thomas Attorney Judith Bourne raised issues concerning a recent Source article about the V.I. residency as defined by new regulations for the Economic Development Commission.
In that article, a letter from William and Doretta Bradshaw to the V.I. senators was quoted. The Bradshaws stated the couple was losing its residency because of the new EDC regulations. (See "New Regulations Mean Some Long-time Residents No Longer Residents").
Bourne said citizens like the Bradshaws could be defined as residents for some government purposes and defined as non-residents for other government purposes.
When Bradshaw was informed of what Bourne was saying he responded in an e-mail, "This would suggest that there are two sets of criteria for residency, one if you receive benefits, and another if you are not an EDC beneficiary." He questioned whether it was legal to have more than one definition of residency and said he believed the V.I. Legislature should define residency instead of taking a definition from the federal government.
A survey of several government agencies on Friday indicated that Bourne was right in that different departments define residency in different ways.
The V.I. Department of Labor has been defining residents simply as those people residing on the islands for a year. Cecil Benjamin, Commissioner of Labor, said his department does not count days that a potential worker has spent on the island, and if a person left the island for medical treatment, that would not count against residency time. He added that the residency requirement is going up to a year and a half.
The V.I. Board of Elections allows a person to register to vote as a resident after he or she has been physically on the island for 90 days. Corrine Plaskett, deputy assistant at the Board of Elections, said to be a registered voter, a person's main home has to be on the Virgin Islands, and the person must pay taxes here. No documents verifying residency are necessary when registering, but an oath is taken, and if that oath is misleading, there can be criminal penalties, she said.
Plaskett added that the board of elections has not seen the new EDC regulations yet, but might consider incorporating them as their own.
To receive the benefits of resident tuition, a student at the University of the Virgin Islands must have "been physically present in the USVI for the 12 consecutive months prior to the first day of instruction," according to UVI's website. One way to demonstrate this is by paying taxes here.
The V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue was unable to answer further questions Friday because it was tax deadline day.
Many people are questioning the Treasury Department's new definition of residency because it states that, with a few exceptions, a person must spend 183 days a year on the islands to be considered a Virgin Islands resident.
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