What You Need to Know About Filing as Head of Household

Who Can File as Head of Household?

To file as a head of household, you have to meet a few guidelines set by the IRS. To qualify, you have to be:

  • Single: First, you have to be single or legally separated on the final day of the tax year. Divorced taxpayers can file as head of household if their spouse did not live with them in the past six months.
  • Paying Home Maintenance: The second criteria to qualify is you have to pay at least half the household’s annual maintenance. This includes rent/mortgage payment, utilities, upkeep, groceries, and home repairs.
  • Living With Dependents: Lastly, you must be living with dependents. Your relative has to live with you for more than six months to qualify as a dependent. You also need to financially support your dependents for the same amount of time.

Can Married Taxpayers Be Head of Household?

Married people do not qualify under this filing status. If you are legally divorced, then you and your ex-spouse should be living apart for more than six months. However, if your separation is temporary, such as military deployment, the IRS will consider you married.

Who Is a Qualifying Dependent?

Before listing your relative as a dependent, keep in mind that they have to meet certain qualifications. These relatives qualify if you’re supporting at least half of their financial needs and if they’re living in the same house as you for six months:

  • Biological child
  • Foster child
  • Father
  • Mother
  • Father-in-law
  • Mother-in-law
  • Brother-in-law
  • Sister-in-law
  • Son-in-law
  • Daughter-in-law
  • Stepfather
  • Stepmother
  • Step-sibling
  • Stepchild
  • Half sibling
  • Uncle
  • Aunt
  • Nephew
  • Neice

Why File as Head of Household?

If you qualify under the IRS head of household filing status, then there are some financial benefits for you to maximize. These include a lower tax rate and a higher standard deduction. In fact, the standard of deduction for a single filer is around $5,800. Meanwhile, if you’re filing as head of household, your standard of deduction is at $8,500.

While these offer great financial benefits, you should be very careful when declaring your filing status. Do not attempt to stretch the truth no matter how much you want these savings. You can’t fool the IRS, and it would be very troublesome for you if they caught you lying on your tax return.

Is Head of Household Better Than Single Filing Status?

While filing as a head of household does offer some benefits, keep in mind that there are other filing statuses available. The best thing to do is to review your tax return and check which status you qualify for. Putting the financial benefits aside, incorrectly filing your tax return can be very problematic. That’s why, before deciding to file as head of household, you should make sure to double check that you really do qualify for it.

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