Head of Household Filing Status

Taxpayers who are eligible for Head of Household filing status receive an increased standard deduction on their returns and may qualify to use special tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.  To use this status, however, taxpayers must meet certain requirements.

What is the Head of Household Filing Status?

The IRS has designated the Head of Household filing status for single taxpayers who care for qualifying children.  As a result, the amount of the standard deduction for this status is higher than that available for single taxpayers.  In 2013, the standard deduction for those who filed as head of household was $8,950 compared to $6,100 for single filers.

Head of Household filers also have an increased taxable income threshold. For example, in 2013, single taxpayers began paying a higher income tax rate after earning more than $8,925, while head of household filers were eligible to earn up to $12,750 before their tax rates began to rise.

Who is Eligible to File as Head of Household?

If you want to use the Head of Household filing status, you must be considered unmarried as of the last day of the year. This designation includes single people, divorced individuals, and those who are married but are living as separate for most of the year. As an example, if the taxpayer lives separately from his or her spouse for at least six months, files a separate income tax return, and provides his or her own financial support for most of the year, the taxpayer is normally considered unmarried for tax purposes.

Along with being considered unmarried, you’ll also have to provide care and financial support for a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. These designations include natural children, adopted children, stepchildren, younger siblings, parents, and direct descendants of these relatives. Generally, the qualifying relative must qualify as your dependent for tax purposes in order to be a qualifying relative for the Head of Household filing status.

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