Eligibility for Head-of-household Tax Filing Status

By | January 27, 2015

There are many different tax filing status.

Eligibility for Head-of-household Tax Filing Status

Each tax filing status has its own benefits and requirements for qualifying. For example, you can file your taxes single, married, married filing separately, or head of household. Head of Household tax filing status is one the better ways to file if you can qualify for this tax filing status. It has many benefits that may help parents who live with their children or other dependents.


Qualifying for Head-of-Household Tax Filing Status

To qualify as head of household, you must maintain as your home a household which for more than half the year is the principal home of:

  1. A “qualifying child,” i.e., someone who (a) lives in your home for over half the year, (b) is your child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child, or your sibling or stepsibling (or a descendant of any of these), (c) is under 19 years old (or a student under 24), and (d) does not provide over half of his or her own support for the year. (If a child’s parents are divorced, the child will qualify if he meets these tests for the custodial parent even if that parent released his or her right to a dependency exemption for the child to the noncustodial parent.) A person will not be a “qualifying child” if he is married and cannot be claimed by you as a dependent because he filed jointly or is not a U.S. citizen or resident. Special “tie-breaking” rules apply if the individual can be a qualifying child of (and is claimed as such by) more than one taxpayer.
  2. Any other relative of yours whom you can claim as your dependent (unless you only qualify due to the multiple support rules). See below for a special rule for your parents.


What is maintaining a household?

You are considered to “maintain a household” if you live in the household for the tax year and pay over half the cost of running it. In measuring the cost, include house-related expenses incurred for the mutual benefit of household members, including property taxes, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, insurance on the property, repairs and upkeep, and food consumed in the home.  Do not include items such as medical care, clothing, education, life insurance, or transportation.


Claiming Parent as Dependent

Under a special rule, you can qualify as head of household if you maintain a home for a parent of yours even if you don’t live with the parent. To qualify under this rule, you must be able to claim the parent as your dependent.


What marital status do you need?

You must be unmarried to claim head-of-household status. If you are unmarried because you are widowed, you can use the married filing jointly rates as a “surviving spouse” for two years after the year of your spouse’s death if your dependent child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child lives with you and you “maintain” the household. The joint rates are more favorable than the head-of-household rates. If you are married, you must file either as married filing jointly or separately, not as head of household. However, if you have lived apart from your spouse for the last six months of the year and your dependent child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child lives with you and you “maintain” the household, you are treated as unmarried. If this is the case, you can qualify as head of household.