Head of household status can be extremely beneficial to taxpayers if they qualify. The two qualifiers – marital status and household expenses – must both be met in order to file your tax return using HOH. In order to determine your eligibility, read the following rules based off the qualifying factors:
You’re required to be unmarried, or considered unmarried by the IRS standards. The IRS rules for being unmarried are:
- As of December 31st, 2015, you are single.
- Your spouse became deceased before the tax year began. In these cases, you may consider filing as a qualifying widow(er), as it may result in greater tax savings. You are still considered married if your spouse died during the current tax year, and you can’t qualify for head of household, as you’ll need to file a joint return.
- A finalized decree exists as of December 31st 2015, in which you are legally divorced or separated.
- You and your spouse have lived separately for the final six months of the year. If you are responsible for the expenses for your household and dependent child, and your spouse had a different residence, you may be considered unmarried and therefore qualify for head of household. The child can be one of the following relationships: step-child, adopted child, or biological child.
Head of household filing status requires the taxpayer to have paid expenses amounting to more than 50% of the total cost of maintaining a household for themselves and a qualifying dependent.
- The dependent is any child or relative whom you can claim the dependency exemption for.
- The household you claim has to be your primary residence for yourself and the dependent, who is required to live there the entire year, unless they are your parent. Dependent parents do not have to reside in the same household, but you are still responsible for over 50% of their household expenses.
Included expenses range from rent, property taxes, mortgage and interest, and insurance, to utilities, maintenance fees and supplies such as groceries and necessities for the household.