What Does Claiming Head of Household on Your Taxes Mean?

Claiming head of household (HOH) status on their taxes can be advantageous to people as it comes with a lower tax rate than filing as a single individual. For single people who qualify, filing this way can save them a significant amount on their taxes. So who qualifies?

Individuals wishing to qualify for this HOH status on their income tax returns must meet the following conditions. They must be considered "unmarried" as of December 31st of the year in which they are filing. "Unmarried" does not necessarily mean divorced, but it usually does. It can also include individuals still legally married but whom have lived separately from their former spouse for the last six months of the year. The person must also have a qualifying dependent living with them. Lastly, they must have been responsible for over half of their family’s housing costs for the year.

For someone to qualify as a dependent, the person must be the child, parent or relative of the person seeking to claim HOH. Qualifying children must have lived with the person for over half the calendar year, be under 18 or under 24 if they are a full-time student. Note: age limits are not applicable to permanently disabled children. Occasionally, exceptions can occur in situations of divorce if the tax rights were specifically mentioned in the separation agreement.

For a relative (such as a grandparent, sibling, uncle, etc) or parent to be determined a dependent for the purpose of qualifying for head of household taxes, they must fall within the following guidelines. Have made a gross income no greater than $3,900 (as of 2013). This is not including social security benefits. The person must have lived with the HOH for over half of the year. They must be a citizen of either the US, Mexico or Canada. While age is not a factor they cannot be married or be claimed on any other tax return.

For more on qualifications for dependents including special situations, such as adoption, where they may temporarily be living elsewhere, etc. See our article here.

Claiming HOH on taxes can bring big savings come tax time, but you must qualify for it in accordance with the IRS guidelines. Our software can help you determine if you claiming head of household is the appropriate status for your filing.



Q&A: Do I qualify as head of household?

Filing taxes with head of household status can have benefits to taxpayers compared to filing as a single taxpayer or married filing separately. The tax brackets are wider and you are also afforded a larger standard deduction.

To qualify there are three criteria you must meet. The first is that you must be unmarried by the end of the tax year. Next, you must pay more than half of the costs associated with keeping up a home throughout the tax year. This can be either your own home or that of a qualifying parent. Last, you must have a qualifying person live with you for more than half the year. A qualifying person generally falls into one of these categories:

  1. A qualifying child
  2. A qualifying parent
  3. A qualifying relative (other than a mother or father)