How To Choose Your Tax Filing Status Wisely For 2019 - 2020

Choosing the right tax filing status that best suits you and your needs can be an important factor that may even save you some serious cash.

Head Of Household Tax Filing Status

Head of Household is an important tax filing status to know about because it comes with some great tax benefits that are available for those who do qualify to use it.

However, this is also one of the most misunderstood tax filing statuses.

With the IRS Head of Household Tax Filing Status, single parents with dependents can gain some tax breaks that are not available to others.

This includes higher income limits on Head of Household tax filers that apply with tax breaks before they reach the amount where they are required to pay income taxes.

What Are the IRS Qualifications For Head of Household?

Head of Household is a filing status that may apply to single or unmarried taxpayers who keep up a home for themselves and a Qualifying Person.

To qualify for head of household filing status, you do not always have to claim a child as a dependent. In certain circumstances, your child is not required to be a dependent. Examples include a custodial parent who may be able to claim the head of household tax filing status even if he or she released a claim to a tax exemption for the child.

Do I Qualify For Head of Household Tax Filing Status?

You qualify to file using the Head of Household filing status if you meet (all 3) of the following Head of Household filing status requirements:

  1. You are single. You were single, divorced, or legally separated, or were considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year you're filing.
  2. Home Expenses You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
  3. Qualified person A Qualifying Dependant or Person lived in that home with you for more than half the year, temporary absences accepted.
    Note: a dependent parent is not required to live in the home with you.

What Married Situation Is "Considered Unmarried"?

In legally married situations where spouses live separately and one provides little or no support for your qualifying person, you may be considered unmarried for the purpose of claiming Head of Household tax filing if all 5 following statements are true:

  1. You are filing separately from your spouse
  2. During the last 6 months of the year your spouse did not live with you at anytime, (temporary absence does not count as not living with you)
  3. You are able to claim an exemption for a child (meaning they qualify as your dependent), or if the noncustodial parent took the exemption
    • A Custodial parent can claim:
      • head of household filing status due to that child
      • earned income credit due to that child
      • the credit for child and dependent care expenses
      • the exclusion for dependent care benefits (from W-2 form)
    • A Noncustodial parent that qualifies can claim:
      • the exemption for the child (claim them as a dependent)
      • the child tax credit for the child (up to $1,000)
  4. Your dependant is your child, stepchild, or foster child, and they lived in your home with you for more than half the year (temporary absences accepted
  5. You have paid more than half the costs for keeping up the home during the year where you and your dependant lived

How To File as Head of Household?

You can use Form 1040 or 1040A to claim the Head of Household filing status when you prepare your return. Head of Household cannot be claimed on Form 1040EZ.

Head Of Household Definitions:

Temporary Absence (Spouse) If you only lived apart due to temporary absences with the expectation of returning to the home after the absence. An acceptable temporary absence includes living away for the purposes of school, business, military service, medical treatment, or vacation.

Special Case: (Nonresident Alien Spouse) You can be considered unmarried (single) for the purpose of claiming Head of Household if your spouse was a nonresident alien during the year and you do not treat them as a resident alien for tax purposes.

Keeping up a Home "Qualifying Costs" You must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home, including all of the following expenses: Rent, Mortgage interest, Property taxes, Insurance, Utilities, Repairs, Maintenance, Food eaten in home, Other household expenses.

Special Case: You are considered to have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home even when you actually paid less than half the total cost if: "you paid a greater portion of the total cost than anybody else did".

Special Case: Public Assistance, If any costs of keeping up your home were paid with funds received from TANF or other public assistance programs, you cannot include those amounts in the expenses. However, you must still count those expenses toward the total costs for keeping up the home.

Qualifying Person "for Head of Household"

A Qualifying Person does not necessarily have to be a dependent. Your spouse cannot be a qualifying person.

  • A Qualifying Child who is single.
  • A Qualifying Child who is married, if you can claim a tax exemption for them, or if you cannot claim the exemption for them because you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return
  • Your mother or father, if you can claim an exemption for them. Your parent does not have to live with you to be a Qualifying Person.
  • A Qualifying Relative that is related to you, if they lived with you for more than half the year and you can claim an exemption for them.
  • Any of the following relations may qualify: your child, stepchild, grandchild or other descendant of one of your children (or stepchildren or foster children), son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, parent, stepfather, stepmother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandparent, great-grandparent, and, if related by blood, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew.
  • A Qualifying Person who was born or died during the year is still considered to have lived with you for the entire year if you paid more than half of the cost of home up-keep during the time they were alive.
  • A child who was kidnapped, and thus did not live with you still entitles you to file as Head of Household if the following 3 statements are true:
    • Law enforcement presumes that the child was not kidnapped by a family member or the child's family.
    • The child lived with you for more than half of the partial year in which they were kidnapped.
    • You qualify as Head of Household even if the child had not been kidnapped. If multiple years pass before the child's recovery, you may file as Head of Household for every year in which the above statements hold true, until the year the child would turn 18, or until determined to be deceased.