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kennethfischbach
New Member

Separated Head of Household

"My wife and I separated in Dec of 2016 and executed a separation agreement (which was not filed with a court in 2016). We live in Maryland. I believe this indicates we were considered married in 2016 so we will file "Married filing separately". We will both itemize as required. Last year the children lived with us both until Dec when we began to split custody 50/50. I have paid well over 50% of household expenses out of my checking account in 2016 (Both of us maintained separate checking accounts but the spouse was on the account in case of emergency as a joint holder). We will each claim one child as a dependant in 2016. Can either of us claim to be Head of Household?"

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Accepted Solutions
Phillip1
New Member

Separated Head of Household

No.

In the case of married individuals filing separately, you can only claim head of household if you lived apart for the final six months of the year.

See the following from IRS Publication 501:

Head of Household

You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements.

  1. You are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year. See Marital StatusConsidered Unmarried

  2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.

  3. A qualifying person lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the qualifying person is your dependent parent, he or she doesn't have to live with you. See Special rule for parent , later, under Qualifying Person.

Considered Unmarried

To qualify for head of household status, you must be either unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year. You are considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year if you meet all the following tests.

  1. You file a separate return. A separate return includes a return claiming married filing separately, single, or head of household filing status.

  2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year.

  3. Your spouse didn't live in your home during the last 6 months of the tax year. Your spouse is considered to live in your home even if he or she is temporarily absent due to special circumstances. See Temporary absences , later.

  4. Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year. (See Home of qualifying person , later, for rules applying to a child's birth, death, or temporary absence during the year.)

  5. You must be able to claim an exemption for the child. However, you meet this test if you can't claim the exemption only because the noncustodial parent can claim the child using the rules described later in Children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart) under Qualifying Child or in Support Test for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents (or Parents Who Live Apart) under Qualifying Relative. The general rules for claiming an exemption for a dependent are explained later under Exemptions for Dependents .

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1 Reply
Phillip1
New Member

Separated Head of Household

No.

In the case of married individuals filing separately, you can only claim head of household if you lived apart for the final six months of the year.

See the following from IRS Publication 501:

Head of Household

You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements.

  1. You are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year. See Marital StatusConsidered Unmarried

  2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.

  3. A qualifying person lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the qualifying person is your dependent parent, he or she doesn't have to live with you. See Special rule for parent , later, under Qualifying Person.

Considered Unmarried

To qualify for head of household status, you must be either unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year. You are considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year if you meet all the following tests.

  1. You file a separate return. A separate return includes a return claiming married filing separately, single, or head of household filing status.

  2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year.

  3. Your spouse didn't live in your home during the last 6 months of the tax year. Your spouse is considered to live in your home even if he or she is temporarily absent due to special circumstances. See Temporary absences , later.

  4. Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year. (See Home of qualifying person , later, for rules applying to a child's birth, death, or temporary absence during the year.)

  5. You must be able to claim an exemption for the child. However, you meet this test if you can't claim the exemption only because the noncustodial parent can claim the child using the rules described later in Children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart) under Qualifying Child or in Support Test for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents (or Parents Who Live Apart) under Qualifying Relative. The general rules for claiming an exemption for a dependent are explained later under Exemptions for Dependents .

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