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head of household questions

That screen shot I posted above says.....

your friend isn't related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who don't have to live with you.  Which means they have to be listed in one of these ways to qualify you for HH.   Which I'm posting here, from page 18 top of  3rd column. ....


And only go by the IRS.  Where are you copying your posts from?  


HH Q2.jpg

Returning Member

head of household questions

I am getting my information from different places, first I was a licensed tax preparer in Oregon for 20 years, up until 2018 and although I have not been preparing taxes, doing continuing education or renewing my license since. I have kept up some what with taxes, including the tax classes I took for my Associate's degree in Business Management and Accounting. Some of the information I posted came from a very long conversation with a Microsoft Artificial Intelligence Co-Pilot and the rest came from conversations with my past employers. I realize what I posted was some what confusing, but I am looking for comments from other tax professionals who have experience that is close to the scenario I entered and if anyone has debating the situations with any IRS agents or in the past and what their outcomes were. So maybe with that information the scenario and other information may be clearer in this post. 



The scenario is regarding Head of Household (HH) Filing Status: Does the taxpayer qualify to claim HH?


The taxpayer lives with his girlfriend and her grand daughter (8 years old) all year, he made 64,000.00 in W-2 wages, his girlfriend made 7,000.00 in disablity SSI, the grandchild received 200.00 a month in government assistance. Taxpayer pays all of the rent, utilities and 3/4 of the food for the household. Taxpayer also buys the majority, school activities, entertainment for the grandchild, but he is not related to the grandchild. The grandchild’s parents do not provide any support and are not involved in their child’s life and they do not file tax returns. The girlfriend also does not file a tax return. Would the taxpayer be able to claim head of household?




 Let’s break down the scenario and determine if the taxpayer qualifies for the Head of Household (HOH) filing status based on the information provided:

  1. Unmarried Status:
    • The taxpayer is not married, which satisfies the first requirement for HOH status.
  2. Costs of Keeping Up a Home:
    • The taxpayer pays all the rent, utilities, and 3/4 of the food for the household.
    • The IRS considers costs related to housing, such as rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, repairs, and groceries.
    • Clothing, life insurance, and transportation expenses are not included.
    • As long as the taxpayer pays more than 50% of the household costs from their own income or savings, they meet this requirement.
  3. Qualifying Dependent:
    • The grandchild living with the taxpayer is a potential qualifying dependent.
    • A qualifying child can be a biological child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, step-sibling, half-sibling, or a descendant of any of these relatives.
    • The child must be under the age of 19 (or under 24 if a full-time student).
    • If the dependent is permanently and totally disabled, regardless of age, they can still qualify.
    • The fact that the taxpayer is not a blood relative to the grandchild does not disqualify them.
  4. Girlfriend’s Dependence:
    • The girlfriend lived with the taxpayer all year.
    • If the taxpayer can claim the girlfriend as a dependent, this would further support their HOH status.

Based on the information provided, it appears that the taxpayer meets the requirements for Head of Household:

  • Unmarried status: Check.
  • Pays more than 50% of household costs: Check.
  • Qualifying dependent (grandchild): Check.
  • Girlfriend living with the taxpayer: Check.

Therefore, the taxpayer would likely be eligible to claim Head of Household status on their tax return. 



Would the girlfriend qualify as the taxpayers dependent with the 7,000.00 SSI income? 7,000.00 is over the income limit, but it should not count towards the income limit because it is SSI income right?



The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) received by the girlfriend does not count toward the income limit for determining dependency. Therefore, if the taxpayer provides more than half of the girlfriend’s support and she meets other dependency criteria (such as living with the taxpayer all year), he can claim her as a dependent.



So the conditions for the qualifying relative test for HH, are to be able to claim the girlfriend as a dependent and too live with the taxpayer more than half the year right?



Yes, you’re correct! To qualify for Head of Household (HH) filing status, the following conditions need to be met:

  1. Claiming the Girlfriend as a Dependent:
    • The taxpayer must be able to claim the girlfriend as a dependent on their tax return.
    • This involves providing more than half of the girlfriend’s support (including housing, food, and other necessities).
    • The girlfriend must meet the criteria for a qualifying relative.
  2. Living with the Taxpayer More Than Half the Year:
    • The girlfriend must live with the taxpayer for more than half of the year.
    • Continuous cohabitation is essential to satisfy this requirement.


 Let’s break down the key points to help clarify the situation:

  1. Head of Household (HH) Filing Status:
    • HH is a tax filing status available to unmarried individuals who meet specific criteria.
    • It generally provides more favorable tax rates and a higher standard deduction compared to the Single filing status.
  2. Qualifications for HH:
    • To qualify for HH, the taxpayer must meet the following conditions:
      • Be unmarried or considered unmarried (e.g., legally separated).
      • Pay more than 50% of the costs of keeping up a home.
      • Have a qualifying dependent living with them for more than half the year.
  3. Qualifying Dependents:
    • A qualifying dependent can be a child, relative, or other individual who meets specific criteria.
    • For HH, a qualifying dependent can be a biological child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, step-sibling, half-sibling, or a descendant of any of these relatives.
    • The relationship does not have to be by blood; it can include non-blood relatives.
  4. Girlfriend and Grandchild Scenario:
    • In the scenario you described:
      • The girlfriend lived with the taxpayer all year.
      • The grandchild is a dependent and lives with the taxpayer.
      • The girlfriend is a blood relative to the grandchild.
    • Despite the lack of a blood relationship, the girlfriend and grandchild still meet the criteria for qualifying dependents.
  5. Exceptions and Flexibility:
    • Tax rules have exceptions and flexibility to accommodate various family structures.
    • The IRS recognizes that relationships can be diverse, and eligibility for tax benefits is not limited to blood relatives.
    • In this case, the taxpayer’s girlfriend and grandchild fulfill the requirements for HH.
  6. Consult a Tax Professional:
    • While our analysis suggests eligibility, it’s essential to consult a tax professional for personalized advice.
    • They can consider all details, exceptions, and specific circumstances to ensure accurate filing.

Feel free to share these points with your friends, emphasizing that the HH status is not restricted solely to blood relatives. It’s about meeting the criteria, supporting dependents, and maintaining a household. 😊


What I am looking for is someone to respond on whether they have had experiences with the exceptions and flexibility in unique cases regarding HH status? Most HH scenarios involve the parents of a child or are more cut and dry scenarios. The IRS Publications do not cover all the situations that can be involved in unique cases. I have read the publications regarding head of household and I agree with the points and information people have posted and I understand that head of houseld’s rules are more strict than qualifying dependents, etc. and the relationships the IRS has listed for who qualifies. However, I also handled audits for past employer’s and I know that they are exceptions to many tax laws, as there are so many different scenarios out there. I am sharing the information above because the Microsoft AI can explain this situation better than my wording. Thank you to everyone who responded, I read and generally agree with what you posted.  

head of household questions

@bbjorklund You have asked this repeatedly for several days now and have received multiple replies explaining the rules.   In order to be a qualified dependent for HOH the child has to be related to the tax payer.   She is not.  She is the UN-biologially related child of the taxpayer's girlfriend.  Period.   He cannot use that child to claim HOH filing status.   If you are unsatisfied with all of the very competent replies you are getting here, seek a local tax pro to explain it to you.

**Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to offer the most correct information possible. The poster disclaims any legal responsibility for the accuracy of the information that is contained in this post.**

head of household questions

One piece of advice you could offer the "taxpayer" this is about is to become legally married to his GF.  Then he could file a joint return, get the married filing jointly standard deduction, and they could claim the grandchild as a dependent on their joint return and get the child-related credits.

**Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to offer the most correct information possible. The poster disclaims any legal responsibility for the accuracy of the information that is contained in this post.**
Returning Member

head of household questions

Really, because the unrelated taxpayer does not have to be related to the grandchild or the grandmother for them to be a “qualifying child” and/or “qualifying relative”. And they both can qualify the unrelated taxpayer for HOH filing status as long as the following criteria is met:

To be a qualifying child for HH the criteria must be met for the residency, age and relationship test:

Residency test: The grandchild lived the entire year with the unrelated taxpayer, which is longer than the minimum half of a year rule.

Age test: The grandchild is 8 years old, which is way younger than 19 years, or 24 if a full-time student limit. The grandchild also must be younger than the unrelated taxpayer who is 52 years old.

Relationship Test: The fact that the grandchild meets the criteria to be the dependent of the unrelated taxpayer and he is claiming her as a dependent, satisfies the relationship test for HH purposes, and the taxpayer does not have to be the biological grandpa of the grandchild.

The grandchild is a qualifying child for HOH purposes.


The Grandma is a qualifying relative for HOH purposes because she meets the criteria which is having lived at least half of the year with the unrelated taxpayer, as she lived with him all year. And since her only income was from SSI disability it does not count for the income limit test, the taxpayer paid over 50% of her support, he maintains the cost of the home, and she meets all other dependency requirements and could be claimed as a dependent if the unrelated taxpayer chooses to claim her. That qualifies the grandma as a qualifying relative for HOH purposes.

To qualify for HOH, the unrelated taxpayer must have a qualifying child or qualifying relative, this taxpayer has both. The fact that they are not biologically related does not disqualify the taxpayer from filing HOH.

So don’t act like me posting this for several days is bothering you so much, I reposted it because people said they were confused about the way it was posted and the only one who seems to be unsatisfied is you who keeps telling me they all must be biologically related. If that was the case always, then the rules for HOH would simply state you must be biologically related and that would be the end of the rules. There would be no need for the qualifying child or qualifying relative rules. So now I have reposted it again to show that there are unique situations where the taxpayer does not have to be related to the qualifying child or relative to file HOH. My guess would be the original rules regarding HOH were made back when the families were traditional, but nowadays we have so many grandparents and unrelated third parties raising kids that are not biologically their own, and traditional marriages are not as common making less in-law relationships so adjustments to the rules had to be made keep up with the changes.

head of household questions

Obviously you won’t accept that the taxpayer has to be biologically related to the person qualifying that taxpayer for Head of Household. Suggest you seek help from a professional paid tax preparer. 

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