You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements.
- You are unmarried or "considered unmarried" on the last day of the year.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
- 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 does not have to live with you. See Special rule for parent, later, under Qualifying Person.
If you qualify to file as head of household, your tax rate usually will be lower than the rates for single or married filing separately. You will also receive a higher standard deduction than if you file as single or married filing separately.
A child may qualify you to file as head of household even if the child has been kidnapped. For more information, see Publication 501. taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170796
If you file as head of household, you can use either Form 1040A or Form 1040. Indicate your choice of this filing status by checking the box on line 4 of either form. Use the Head of household column of the Tax Table or Section D of the Tax Computation Worksheet to figure your tax.taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170797
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.
- You file a separate return (defined earlier under Joint Return After Separate Returns).
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year.
- Your spouse did not 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, under Qualifying Person, later.
- Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year. (See Home of qualifying person, under Qualifying Person, later, for rules applying to a child's birth, death, or temporary absence during the year.)
- You must be able to claim an exemption for the child. However, you meet this test if you cannot claim the exemption only because the noncustodial parent can claim the child using the rules described in Children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart under Qualifying Child in chapter 3, or in Support Test for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents or Parents Who Live Apart under Qualifying Relative in chapter 3. The general rules for claiming an exemption for a dependent are explained under Exemptions for Dependents in chapter 3.
If you were considered married for part of the year and lived in a community property state (listed earlier under Married Filing Separately
), special rules may apply in determining your income and expenses. See Publication 555 for more information.
You are considered unmarried for head of household purposes if your spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year and you do not choose to treat your nonresident spouse as a resident alien. However, your spouse is not a qualifying person for head of household purposes. You must have another qualifying person and meet the other tests to be eligible to file as a head of household. taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170806
Even if you are considered unmarried for head of household purposes because you are married to a nonresident alien, you are still considered married for purposes of the earned income credit (unless you meet the five tests listed earlier under Considered Unmarried
). You are not entitled to the credit unless you file a joint return with your spouse and meet other qualifications. See chapter 36
for more information.
You are considered married if you choose to treat your spouse as a resident alien.taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170809
To qualify for head of household status, you must pay more than half of the cost of keeping up a home for the year. You can determine whether you paid more than half of the cost of keeping up a home by using the worksheet shown on this page.
Cost of Keeping Up a Home
| || || |
| || Amount|
| Total |
|Property taxes|| $ || $ |
|Mortgage interest expense|| || |
|Rent|| || |
|Utility charges|| || |
|Repairs/maintenance|| || |
|Property insurance|| || |
on the premises
| || |
|Other household expenses|| || |
| Totals || $ || $ |
| || || |
|Minus total amount you paid || ||( )|
| || || |
| Amount others paid || || $ |
| || || |
|If the total amount you paid is more than the amount others paid, you meet the requirement of paying more than half the cost of keeping up the home.|
Include in the cost of upkeep expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, insurance on the home, repairs, utilities, and food eaten in the home.
If you used payments you received under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or other public assistance programs to pay part of the cost of keeping up your home, you cannot count them as money you paid. However, you must include them in the total cost of keeping up your home to figure if you paid over half the cost. taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170813
Do not include in the cost of upkeep expenses such as clothing, education, medical treatment, vacations, life insurance, or transportation. Also, do not include the rental value of a home you own or the value of your services or those of a member of your household.
Also do not include any government or charitable assistance you received because of your temporary relocation due to the storms, tornadoes, or flooding in a Midwestern disaster area. taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170814
See Table 2-1
to see who is a qualifying person.
Any person not described in Table 2-1
is not a qualifying person.
Generally, the qualifying person must live with you for more than half of the year.taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170817
If your qualifying person is your father or mother, you may be eligible to file as head of household even if your father or mother does not live with you. However, you must be able to claim an exemption for your father or mother. Also, you must pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for the entire year for your father or mother. You are keeping up a main home for your father or mother if you pay more than half the cost of keeping your parent in a rest home or home for the elderly. taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170818
You and your qualifying person are considered to live together even if one or both of you are temporarily absent from your home due to special circumstances such as illness, education, business, vacation, or military service. It must be reasonable to assume that the absent person will return to the home after the temporary absence. You must continue to keep up the home during the absence. taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170819
You may be eligible to file as head of household if the individual who qualifies you for this filing status is born or dies during the year. You must have provided more than half of the cost of keeping up a home that was the individual's main home for more than half the year or, if less, the period during which the individual lived. taxmap/pub17/p17-014.htm#en_us_publink1000170820
You are unmarried. Your mother, for whom you can claim an exemption, lived in an apartment by herself. She died on September 2. The cost of the upkeep of her apartment for the year until her death was $6,000. You paid $4,000 and your brother paid $2,000. Your brother made no other payments toward your mother's support. Your mother had no income. Because you paid more than half the cost of keeping up your mother's apartment from January 1 until her death, and you can claim an exemption for her, you can file as a head of household.
Table 2-1. Who Is a Qualifying Person Qualifying You To File as Head of Household?1 Caution. See the text of this chapter for the other requirements you must meet to claim head of household filing status.
|IF the person is your . . .|| ||AND . . .|| ||THEN that person is . . .|
|qualifying child (such as a son, daughter, or grandchild who lived with you more than half the year and meets certain other tests)2 || ||he or she is single|| ||a qualifying person, whether or not you can claim an exemption for the person.|
| ||he or she is married and you can claim an exemption for him or her|| ||a qualifying person.|
| ||he or she is married and you cannot claim an exemption for him or her|| ||not a qualifying person.3 |
|qualifying relative4 who is your father or mother|| ||you can claim an exemption for him or her5 || ||a qualifying person.6 |
| ||you cannot claim an exemption for him or her|| ||not a qualifying person.|
|qualifying relative4 other than your father or mother (such as a grandparent, brother, or sister who meets certain tests)|| ||he or she lived with you more than half the year, and he or she is related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you in chapter 3 and you can claim an exemption for him or her5 || ||a qualifying person.|
| ||he or she did not live with you more than half the year|| ||not a qualifying person.|
| ||he or she is not related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you in chapter 3 and is your qualifying relative only because he or she lived with you all year as a member of your household|| ||not a qualifying person.|
| ||you cannot claim an exemption for him or her|| ||not a qualifying person.|
| 1A person cannot qualify more than one taxpayer to use the head of household filing status for the year.|
| 2The term "qualifying child" is defined in chapter 3. Note. If you are a noncustodial parent, the term "qualifying child" for head of household filing status does not include a child who is your qualifying child for exemption purposes only because of the rules described under Children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart under Qualifying Child in chapter 3. If you are the custodial parent and those rules apply, the child generally is your qualifying child for head of household filing status even though the child is not a qualifying child for whom you can claim an exemption.|
| 3This person is a qualifying person if the only reason you cannot claim the exemption is that you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return.|
| 4The term " qualifying relative " is defined in chapter 3.|
| 5If you can claim an exemption for a person only because of a multiple support agreement, that person is not a qualifying person. See Multiple Support Agreement in chapter 3.|
| 6See Special rule for parent for an additional requirement.|