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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 wasn't 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 tax 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. To qualify for head of household filing status, do I have to claim my child as a dependent?
  4. I am divorced with one child. This year my ex-spouse, who is the noncustodial parent, will claim an exemption for our child. Do I still qualify as head of household?

Rev. date: 11/09/2016

If I lived apart from my spouse from July 10 to December 31 but wasn't 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 tax credit if I have a qualifying child?

No, you can't file as head of household because you weren't considered unmarried at the end of the tax year. You're considered unmarried at the end of a tax year only if you're legally separated or your spouse isn't a member of your household for 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 What is My Filing Status? and Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, for information about filing status.

Rev. date: 11/09/2016

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?

No, only one parent may claim the child as a qualifying child to file as head of household.

Rev. date: 11/09/2016

To qualify for head of household filing status, do I have to claim my child as a dependent?

Generally, to qualify for head of household, you must have a qualifying child or dependent.  However, a custodial  parent may be able to claim head of household filing status with a qualifying child even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child. See Noncustodial parent is claiming an exemption for my child; do I still qualify as head of household?

Rev. date: 11/09/2016

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

You may still qualify for head of household filing status, even though you aren’t claiming an exemption for your child if you meet all of the following requirements:
  1. You're 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 either your qualifying child (whether you can claim the child as a dependent or not) or your qualifying relative whom you can claim as a dependent.