By Jennifer Wake

Flourishing Through MSRRA

MSRRA is a wonderful thing. But few people know what it is. MSRRA stands for Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (Public law 111-97) passed in 2009. Doesn’t that make everything perfectly clear?

What it really means is that military spouses no longer have to pay income tax based on where their servicemember is stationed. Congress threw in a change to MSRRA on December 31, 2018. This change allows spouses to claim residency of their servicemember. This is huge.

Although both my husband and I claim New York as our state of residency I have helped many spouses who were from states other than where the servicemember was from. Before this change, many states taxed military spouses differently than military members. Now, spouses can choose to be from the state of their military member.

I am from Upstate New York. It is where I call home. My family lives there. Even though I moved every two years when I was little, my home is where my family finally settled. I still vote in New York through absentee ballots. My cars are registered in New York. I love being from Upstate New York.

I think I am very similar to Naomi and Ruth.

In the book of Ruth, Ruth decides to stay with Naomi after their husbands pass away. She chooses to give up her home to go with Naomi back to the land of Judah.

“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16 ESV)

Ruth chose to become a resident of Judah instead of Moab. This was huge. People did not choose to leave their homeland. Ruth was still called a Moabite even though she moved away. She gave up everything. She chose to go with Naomi because of love. Does that sound familiar? Many military spouses give up everything for love, just like Jesus gave up everything because He loves us.

Naomi went back home after her husband died. She went back to where her heart was. She was bitter about losing her husband (see the end of Ruth 1). Yet she taught Ruth about the Jewish traditions. She shared stories about her people and their heritage. She knew her leaders. I am sure she prayed for her leaders. She knew that Boaz could marry Ruth and redeem her family. Naomi taught Ruth many things.

Ruth learned how to flourish where she resided. She taught Naomi how to flourish. When Ruth gave birth to a son named Obed meaning Servant. Ruth served Naomi and taught her to flourish.

How to flourish in the MSRRA Change:

  1. Show your “home” pride. Register your vehicles where you “reside.” It may be hard to return to the state to register your vehicle it shows you want to support your state. My plates start many conversations, usually it starts with “are you from New York City?”
  2. Teach your kids about your “home.” My area of New York is known for the Women’s Suffrage movement. Teaching my children about that heritage is important.
  3. Pray while voting for your “home” officials. Keep voting in your state of residency. Voting is one of our greatest rights. Along with voting, pray for your government leaders. Pray for them to lead wisely.
  4. Read the Book of Ruth. Ruth loved Naomi enough to move to a strange land. Naomi changed from bitter to loving. We can learn so much from studying them. We can learn about flourishing wherever God puts us.

As military members and spouses, our home means either where we currently live or where we are from. Our home is key to our flourishing.


Dear Lord, as we reflect on Ruth’s choices let us be wise in our choices. Let us pray for our leaders and learn to be wise in financial areas. Amen