Do I Qualify as Head of Household?

Do I Qualify as Head of Household?

Do I Qualify as Head of Household?

We know that selecting the correct status can get confusing. The Internal Revenue Code offers five different filing status options, and you’re required to pick one of them. It’s pretty well-known that the “head of household” status carries a lot of advantages: 

  • Taxpayers who qualify get a higher standard deduction
  • Qualified taxpayers have wider tax brackets than the single-filing status.

However, there are specific rules to qualify for this option.

What IS Head of Household?

The Head of Household status is for single or unmarried taxpayers who keep up a home for a Qualifying Person. You must meet all 3 requirements:

1. You are not married*

First, you need to be unmarried or considered unmarried as of the last day of the year. Unmarried means single, divorced, or legally separated as ordered by the court. You can also be considered unmarried if you are legally married, but you and your spouse are separated and live in different residences for the last half of the year.

2. You pay half the costs to keep up your home

Second, you need to support yourself. You do this by showing that you provide at least half the cost to keep up your home. The IRS provides a worksheet to help you calculate this, but the idea is to add up household costs and determine that you pay more than half throughout the year. Here are examples:

  • Costs to include: Rent, mortgage interest, property taxes, homeowners insurance, repairs, utilities, and food eaten in your home.
  • Costs not to include: Clothing, education, medical expenses, vacations, life insurance and transportation.

3. There is a qualifying person living with you for at least half the year

This is the hardest requirement to meet. Basically, you have to have a dependent that is supported by you. If you can claim a person as a dependent and they live with you for six months, you might meet this requirement. Beyond your son or daughter, a qualifying person can be a sibling, parent, grandchild, grandparent, or other relative.

  • If your parent doesn’t live with you, as long as you’re providing more than half of the cost of keeping up their home, they count.

* One exception exists if you were married, but lived apart for the last 6 months of the year.

Special Cases 

1. Temporary Absence

You are still considered to have lived with your spouse in your home if you only lived apart due to temporary absences. A temporary absence includes living away from the home for the purposes of school, business, military service, medical treatment, or vacation, with the expectation of returning to the home after the absence.

2. Nonresident Alien Spouse

You can be considered unmarried (single) for the purpose of filing as Head of Household if your spouse was a nonresident alien anytime during the year and you do not choose to treat them as a resident alien for tax purposes. But you are considered married if you choose to treat your spouse as a resident alien on your tax return.

Your spouse cannot be a qualifying person, so you must have another qualifying person to be eligible to file as a Head of Household.

How to Ensure You Qualify

Your Enrolled Agent can help you determine if you qualify for Head of Household. Jeffrey A. Schneider EA, CTRS, NTPIF, ACT-E has been helping people just like you for over 40 years. Set up your appointment today and learn your options!

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Jeffrey Schneider, EA, CTRS, NTPI Fellow has the knowledge and expertise to help you reach a favorable outcome with the IRS. He is the head honcho at SFS Tax & Accounting as well as an Enrolled Agent, a Certified Tax Resolution Specialist and Advanced Crypto Tax Expert.
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Author of the Now What? Help!  series. Jeff defines and deconstructs the scary and confusing letters in a fashion that mixes attention to detail with humor and an intricate clarification of what is what in the world of the IRS.

The books are available in paperback and eBook on Amazon.
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