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nicolet890
New Member

I rent a room in my friends house and have a child. She owns the house and pays the bills, but I give cash to help. Can I claim head of household for my daughter and I?

I have claimed head of household previously and did not have an issue, but want to make sure its the correct thing to do. All bills are in her name, but I give cash to help. I buy all groceries and household items to provide for my daughter and I.
2 Replies
DMarkM1
Employee Tax Expert

I rent a room in my friends house and have a child. She owns the house and pays the bills, but I give cash to help. Can I claim head of household for my daughter and I?

Maybe. The key is did you pay more than half the cost of keeping up the home.  You provide some money that goes toward rent and utilities and you pay 2/3 of groceries and supplies.  It does not matter whose name is on the bills; it's who is contributing what amounts. 

 

Here is the list of items included in the upkeep and those that are not. 

 

Upkeep costs include:                                                               
- Rent
- Mortgage interest
- Real estate taxes
- Insurance on the home
- Repairs
- Utilities
- Food eaten in the home 

 

They don't include:
- Clothing
- Education
- Medical treatment
- Vacations
- Life insurance
- Transportation
- The rental value of a home you own
- The value of your services or those of a member of your household 

 

 

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Opus 17
Level 15

I rent a room in my friends house and have a child. She owns the house and pays the bills, but I give cash to help. Can I claim head of household for my daughter and I?

I disagree with DMarkM1.

 

The IRS has indicated that a "household" is not necessarily all the people living in a single home.  Your household might only consist of you and your daughter, in which case you only need to pay more than half your own expenses, and not more than half of the entire house including your friend's family.  This seems to be a good article.  https://www.thebalance.com/two-heads-of-household-3193038

 

According to the IRS, taxpayers who share the same physical address must prove that they live as separate households, and that they have independent lives outside the residence. Some factors that can weigh in favor of two separate households sharing the same physical residence might include the following:

 
  • Each family has separate telephone lines.
  • The taxpayers maintain separate finances and separate bank accounts.
  • Neither family contributes financial support to the other.
  • The adult taxpayers have separate bedrooms.
  • The children have separate bedrooms.
  • The family members don't celebrate holidays or birthdays together.

Professional advice may be recommended.  

 

If you pay rent to your friend, and buy separate groceries for yourself and your daughter, and otherwise maintain separate lives, you are on the right track. 

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
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