Head of Household provides several tax benefits, but you must meet several requirements in order to claim it
Of the five filing statuses you can choose when you file your tax return – Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, and Qualifying Widow(er) – Head of Household is one of the less frequently claimed. But for those who qualify it can provide ample benefits, such as lower tax rates and a higher standard deduction.
Who qualifies as Head of Household?
In order to qualify as a Head of Household you must meet the following requirements:
- You were unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
- A qualifying person lived with you in the house for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However if the qualifying person is your dependent parent, they do not need to have lived with you.
Who does the IRS consider unmarried?
The IRS considers you unmarried for the whole tax year if you were unmarried on the last day of the year, or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance agreement. That means you could have been married all year, but as long as you got divorced by December 31st the IRS considers you unmarried.
You may also be able to claim Head of Household if you are not divorced or legally separated so long as you live apart from your spouse and meet certain tests.
- You file a separate return.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year.
- Your spouse did not live in your home during the last six months of the tax year (your spouse is considered to have lived in your home even if he or she is temporarily absent due to special circumstances).
- Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year.
- You are able to claim an exemption for the child.
Keeping up a home
A Head of Household must also have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year. The cost of keeping up a home includes
- property taxes
- mortgage interest expenses
- utility charges
- property insurance
- food consumed on the premises
- other household expenses
Do not include clothing, education, medical treatment, vacations, life insurance, transportation, etc.
Qualifying as a Head of Household can be difficult because you have to meet all three of these requirements: marriage, support of household, and a qualifying person. But if you do qualify it can provide many benefits. RapidTax will help you figure out if you qualify and make sure you get your maximum refund.
Photo via Dustin McClure on Flickr.
Tags: head of householdThis entry was posted on Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 12:53 pm and is filed under Tax and Life Changes | Blog.