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Head of Household Filing Status

Head of Household Filing Status

Head of Household Filing Status  Pay Half of the Household Expenses be unmarried for the tax year, and. You must have a qualifying child or dependent. Check with your accountant to see if you qualify.

Head of Household Filing Status  for individual United States taxpayers.

To use the Head of Household Filing Status , a taxpayer must:

  • Be unmarried or considered unmarried at the end of the year.
  • Have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the tax year (either one’s own home or the home of a qualifying parent).
  • Usually have a qualifying person who lived with the head in the home for more than half of the tax year unless the qualifying person is a dependent parent.

Advantages

 The taxpayer using the Head of Household Filing Status is entitled to use the Head of Household tax rates, which feature wider tax brackets. Also, the taxpayer is entitled to a larger standard deduction ($18,000 for tax year 2020) than taxpayers using Single or Married Filing Separately ($12,000 for 2020).

Considered unmarried

 A person who is married on the last day of the tax year generally must use either the Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately filing status. The exception is a taxpayer who is considered unmarried for Head of Household filing purposes and qualifies as Head of Household.

To be considered unmarried, a taxpayer must meet all the Head of Household Filing Status tests:

  • The taxpayer must file a separate return.
  • The taxpayer paid more than half the cost of keeping up the home for the tax year.
  • The taxpayer’s spouse must not have lived in the home at any time during the last six months of the year.
  • The taxpayer’s home was the main home of his or her child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year.
  • The taxpayer must be able to claim an exemption for the child. However, this test is still met if the only reason that the taxpayer cannot claim the child’s exemption is that the noncustodial parent is claiming the exemption (under a written release of exemption or a pre-1985 decree of divorce, decree of separate maintenance, or written separation agreement).
  • A taxpayer may also be considered unmarried for head of household purposes if the spouse is a nonresident alien, and the taxpayer does not elect to treat the spouse as a resident alien. In that case, the taxpayer is still considered married for purposes of the earned income credit.

Keeping up a home

 To qualify for Head of Household Filing Status, the taxpayer must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year. Costs to consider include property taxes, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, repairs and maintenance, insurance, and food eaten in the home. Costs such as education, clothing, vacation, and transportation are not included in the cost of keeping up the homes.

Qualifying person

The following table determines who is a qualifying person for Head of Household Filing Status :

If the person is a…

AND…

THEN that person is…

Qualifying child (1)

is single

a qualifying person, whether or not one can claim an exemption for that person.

is married and the taxpayer can claim an exemption for that person

a qualifying person.

is married and the taxpayer cannot claim an exemption for that person

not a qualifying person.

Qualifying relative who is a father or mother

the taxpayer can claim an exemption for that person

a qualifying person.

the taxpayer cannot claim an exemption for that person

not a qualifying person.

Qualifying relative other than a father or mother

that person lived with the taxpayer for more than half the year and is related in one of the ways listed below, and the taxpayer can claim an exemption for that person

a qualifying person.

did not live with taxpayer for more than half the year

not a qualifying person.

is not related in one of the ways listed below and is a qualifying relative only because he or she lived with the taxpayer for the whole year as a member of the household

not a qualifying person.

the taxpayer cannot claim an exemption for that person

not a qualifying person.

Qualifying Child MUST meet all the tests. For Example, a 25-year-old full-time student does not qualify as a child but may qualify as a Qualifying Relative if the tests are met. See Table 5 IRS Pub 501. In this case you could not file as HOH. If the tests are met, you could file as single or married filing separately and claim an exemption for the non-qualified child.

Qualifying relatives

Other than a father or mother, the following types of relationships may qualify a dependent as a qualifying person for head of household purposes

Child, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of them. (A legally adopted child is considered a child.)

  • Brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, stepsister.
  • Grandparent or direct ancestor but not foster parent.
  • Stepfather or stepmother.
  • Son or daughter of the taxpayer’s brother or sister.
  • Brother or sister of the taxpayer’s father or mother.
  • Son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.
  • Any of these relationships that was established by marriage is not ended by death or divorce.

Special rule for parents

If the qualifying person is the taxpayer’s father or mother, the taxpayer may file as Head of Household Filing Status even if the father or mother does not live with the taxpayer. However, the taxpayer must be able to claim the exemption for the father or mother. Also, the taxpayer must pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for the entire year for the father or mother. The taxpayer is considered keeping up the father or mother’s main home by paying more than half the cost of keeping the parent in a rest home for the elderly.

Qualify for head of household filing status

To file as head of household, you must: Pay for more than half of the household expenses. Be considered unmarried for the tax year, and. You must have a qualifying child or dependent.
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