TurboTax FAQ
TurboTax FAQ
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Do I qualify for Head of Household?

Head of Household is one of the filing status options taxpayers can use to file your taxes. Others are Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, and Qualified Widow(er). Filing status determines your standard deduction and the ability to claim other deductions, credits and exclusions.

For Example: Taxpayer cannot qualify for Head of Household by calling a person their dependent only because he or she lived with the taxpayer for the year, or because the taxpayer may claim him or her as a dependent because of a multiple support agreement.

Shortly after you start your return, the TurboTax interview will guide you in determining if you qualify for Head of Household. If you're filing using a different status, you can also try changing it in the Personal Info section to Head of Household. Keep going through the interview screens, and TurboTax will let you know if you do – or don't – qualify to file as Head of Household.

Qualifying to file as Head of Household

Filing as Head of Household may provide additional tax benefits for single U.S. citizens or resident aliens caring for a child or other related persons such as parents. Unmarried persons may be able to file as Head of Household if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • You are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year and file a separate tax return with a qualifying child. See A Qualifying Child and Who is a qualifying person? in the following sections.
  • You are considered unmarried if a spouse did not live in the home during the last 6 months of the year and your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year.
  • You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
  • The child or dependent lived with you — see the next section, Who is a qualifying person?

If you are separated or divorced, your spouse cannot have lived in your home during the last 6 months of the year. And if you were married for part of the year and live in a community property state, special rules may apply in determining your income and expenses for the support requirement. Refer to IRS Publication 555 Community Property.

Who is a qualifying person?

A qualifying person is someone the IRS recognizes as meeting the requirements to file as Head of Household. The qualifying person must either be a qualifying child, parent, or relative. If the person you want to use as a qualifying person does not meet any of the IRS requirements here, they do not qualify and cannot be used by you to file as Head of Household. For further details, see IRS Publication 501 Exemptions and Standard Deductions, and Filing Information.

To be a qualifying person for head of Household, the person must be –

A Qualifying Child
To be your qualifying child, the person is:

  • Your son, daughter, or grandchild who lived with you more than half of the year.
  • Your child age 18 or under or be age 24 or under and a full time student at the end of the year, or be disabled.
  • Single, or is married and you can claim an exemption for them.

There is an exception to the living requirement for children subject to divorce or separation agreements. If you are a noncustodial parent, you may be given an exemption for a child under a divorce or separation agreement, but the exemption alone does not qualify you for Head of Household filing status. For custodial parents, the child would qualify you for Head of Household even if the child's exemption is awarded to another parent.

OR

A Qualifying Parent (Relative)
Your qualifying parent must be your mother or father who you claim an exemption for on your tax return. This most often means their income is limited. For 2013 they must have gross income of less than $3,900, but remember, Social Security generally doesn’t count as part of gross income. There is special rule for this parent if they live in a rest home or home for the elderly which is their main home. Paying more than half of keeping their residence (main home) for the year could still qualify you as Head of Household.

OR

A Qualifying Relative (related to you)
Your qualifying relative is a grandparent, brother, sister, nephew, niece, grandson, granddaughter, uncle, or aunt, who:

  • Lived with you more than half of the year and
  • You can claim them as an exemption.

There is no age test. Qualifying relative can include children who do not meet the qualifying children test. A dependent child who lives in Mexico or Canada may qualify, see Table 4 in IRS Publication 501.

Nonresident children in other countries do not qualify as a dependent. Other tax situations have a member of household test; these persons do not qualify you for Head of Household status.

Cost of keeping your home

You must pay more than half of the cost of keeping up a home for the year to qualify for Head of Household filing status.

If you are not the only one contributing to the support of the qualifying person, list and total separately the amounts you paid and what others paid to be sure your contribution are more than half of the total. If two people each contribute 50% to a child's support, neither person contributes more than half and neither person meets the support rule. 

Some of the costs you can include when figuring a qualifying child's support are:

  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage interest or rent expenses
  • Property insurance
  • Utility charges
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Food consumed at the home
  • Other household expenses

Costs cannot include any public assistance payments or the costs of clothing, medical treatment, life insurance, or transportation. Unpaid costs, such as the rental value of your home or the value of services someone provides also do not count.

Other qualifying issues

In some situations, a qualifying person may be absent from your home:

  • If your qualifying person is temporarily absent due to illness, education, business, vacation or military service, they should still qualify. The absence must reasonably be considered temporary and the person expects to return to your home.
  • A person who is born or dies during the year may qualify you if the person meets all other requirements,
  • You must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was their main home for half the year, or more than half the costs for the period while they lived.

Some states use the federal filing status definition for Head of Household, while some states have their own separate status categories and definitions. Again, TurboTax will guide you. If you aren’t sure about unusual situations, check with your state tax department.

Resident aliens may be considered unmarried if their spouse is a nonresident alien and certain tax related selections are made. Nonresident aliens cannot use the Head of Household filing status, but if their spouse is a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the spouse may still qualify. However, a nonresident spouse is not a qualifying person for Head of Household purposes. See Chapters 1 and 5, Filing Status section of IRS Publication 519 Tax Guide for Aliens.


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