Head of Household

Head of household is one of the 5 filing statuses. Unmarried taxpayers who keep up a home for a qualified dependent can claim this status. 

How do I know if filing head of household is an option for me?

Single parents who are divorced or have never been married are the taxpayers most likely to file under this status. To be eligible to file as head of household, you'll need to meet a few criteria. First, you need to be considered unmarried (your marital status on December 31 of the tax year is what counts) or abandoned. You'll also need to have at least one dependent to whom you provide the majority of their support. Finally, you'll need to have paid for at least half the costs of keeping up your home.

Why would I choose to file as head of household?

Filing as head of household usually has tax advantages over filing as a single person. If you qualify and choose this filing status, you'll have a lower tax rate and a higher standard deduction than someone who files as single.

What's included in the costs of "keeping up a home"?

You can include all of the following when tallying up the costs of keeping up a home:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage interest
  • Insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Utilities
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Food eaten in the home
  • Other household expenses

Anything else I should keep in mind about this status? 

Sometimes, one parent may not be able to claim a dependency exemption for their child at home because the child's other parent claims the child as a dependent. When this happens, it may still be possible for the parent housing the child to file as head of household, as long as their child meets the tests for a qualifying dependent.

A taxpayer may be able to file as head of household if they are considered to be abandoned by their spouse. To qualify, the taxpayer will need to have lived apart from their spouse for the last 6 months of the tax year. The separation can't be temporary, such as an extended business trip or military deployment.