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Frequently Asked Tax Questions

Filing Requirements, Status, Dependents, Exemptions - Filing Status

  1. If I lived apart from my spouse from July 10 to December 31, but was not divorced or legally separated at the end of the year, can I file as head of household? Will my filing status allow me to claim a credit for childcare expenses and the earned income credit if I have a qualifying child?
  2. If the parents of a year-old child never married but live together with the child for the tax year, and both contribute to the cost of maintaining the household for the child and themselves, may they both file as head of household?
  3. For head of household filing status, do you have to claim a child as a dependent to qualify?
  4. I am divorced with one child. This year my ex-spouse, who is the noncustodial parent, will claim an exemption for the child. Can I qualify as head of household?

Rev. date: 12/13/2013

If I lived apart from my spouse from July 10 to December 31, but was not divorced or legally separated at the end of the year, can I file as head of household? Will my filing status allow me to claim a credit for childcare expenses and the earned income credit if I have a qualifying child?

You do not qualify for head of household filing status because you were not unmarried or considered unmarried at the end of the tax year. You were not considered unmarried because you and your spouse were members of the same household for part of the last 6 months of the tax year.
Your filing status for the year will be either married filing separately, or married filing jointly.
See Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, and Publication 596, Earned Income Credit (EIC), for more information.

Rev. date: 12/13/2013

If the parents of a year-old child never married but live together with the child for the tax year, and both contribute to the cost of maintaining the household for the child and themselves, may they both file as head of household?

Only one taxpayer may claim the child as a qualifying child for purposes of filing as head of household.

Rev. date: 12/13/2013

For head of household filing status, do you have to claim a child as a dependent to qualify?

In certain circumstances, you do not have to claim the child as a dependent to qualify for head of household filing status; for example, a custodial parent may be able to claim head of household filing status even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child.

Rev. date: 12/13/2013

I am divorced with one child. This year my ex-spouse, who is the noncustodial parent, will claim an exemption for the child. Can I qualify as head of household?

You may qualify to file as head of household even though you do not claim an exemption for your child if you meet all of the following requirements:
  1. You are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year.
  2. You paid more than half of the cost of maintaining a household that is your home and the main home of your child for more than one-half of the year.
  3. Your child is your qualifying child for purposes other than the dependency exemption and the child tax credit.