Head of Household

Head of Household

Filing as Head of Household

An unmarried person who provides a home for a qualifying person(s) may file as head of household. This head of household status will allow for income being taxed as a lower tax rate and will afford a higher standard deduction than such person would be entitled to if filing as single or married filing separately.

Here are some of the tests that must be met in order to file as head of household:

Taxpayer Must Be A United States Citizen or Resident Alien

The taxpayer must be a United States Citizen or Resident Alien for the entire year.

Taxpayer Must Be Unmarried or Considered Unmarried at the End of the Tax Year

The taxpayer is considered to be unmarried at the end of the year if:

  • He files a separate return
  • He paid more than half the cost of keeping up his home for the tax year
  • His spouse did not live in the home during the last six months of the taxable year
  • His home was the principal place of abode of their child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child for more than half of the tax year; and
  • He can claim the child as a dependent (unless the child’s other parent can claim the child under the rules for divorced or separate parents).

Also, a taxpayer is also considered to be unmarried at the end of the year if:

  • His spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year, or
  • He is legally separated from his spouse under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance at the close of the tax year. Note, a taxpayer under an interlocutory decree of divorce is not legally separated.

Note: A widow or widower may not uses head of household rates in tax years which he or she is eligible to use joint rates under the surviving spouse rules.

Taxpayer Must Maintain As His Home A Household Which Is The Principal Place of Abode of Certain Members of Such Household

The taxpayer must maintain as his home a household (defined below) which, for more than one-half of the tax year, is the principal place of abode of one of the following who is a member of such household:

  • Qualifying child of taxpayer, or
  • Any person who is a dependent of the taxpayer if they are entitled to claim that person as a dependency exemption.

Paying More Than Half the Cost of A Household

The taxpayer maintains a household only if the individual furnishes more than one-half the cost of maintaining the home during the tax year and if at least one of the persons described in the previous paragraph above (except for institutionalization or hospitalization) lives there for more than one-half the year (except for temporary absences, such as time spent at school.)

For this purpose, the cost of maintaining a home includes:

  • Rent, Property tax, mortgage interest, utilities, repairs, food consumed on the premises and other household expenses.
  • It does not include costs of education, medical treatment, life insurance, transportation or clothing.

Birth or death of such person during the year will not disqualify the taxpayer for head of household status if the person lived in the household for the part of year which he or she was alive.

Some Additional Rules:

Head of Household For Household With A Parent

Additionally, the individual qualifies for head of household status if a separate household is maintained for the parent. The separate household must be the parent’s principal place of abode and the parent must qualify as the child’s dependent. A principal place of abode can include residence at a rest home or home for the aged.

Head of Household For A Home With An Institutionalized Or Hospitalized Dependent

An institutionalized or hospitalized dependent, other than a parent, may also qualify a taxpayer as head of household status if it can be shown that the taxpayer’s home was the principal place of abode of the dependent, even though the dependent may never return home because of the nature of the infirmity.

“Steven has been providing outstanding legal advice to me for seventeen years. He is THE authority on estate planning and financial planning. Steven is a compassionate and thorough attorney who thinks of every possible contingency. He easily explains complicated issues, and it has been my pleasure to recommend him to my friends.” November 11, 2008
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Philadelphia, PA 19102

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From their offices in Philadelphia, PA, the law firm of Steven J. Fromm & Associates, P.C. provides a full range of estate planning, probate and estate administration, tax, business and corporate legal services to clients throughout eastern Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley, the Lehigh Valley Area, the Five-County Area, Bucks County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, Berks County, Lehigh County, Lancaster County, York County, Harrisburg, Norristown, Doylestown, Media, West Chester, Allentown, Lancaster, and Reading.