How to Qualify As Head of Household

By Jimmy Boyd
How to Qualify As Head of Household
Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Certain taxpayers with a dependent can qualify as a head of household for income tax filing purposes. Head of household filers may pay less in because they get a reduced tax rate and larger standard deduction. However, the taxpayer must qualify under several tests the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has established to obtain this benefit. A taxpayer who wishes to qualify as a head of household needs to learn the rules and plan ahead to ensure that he satisfies all the tests by the end of the tax year.

the status, the final day, the tax year
Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Attain the status of single or "considered unmarried" on the final day of the tax year. A married person may still qualify as unmarried for this rule, if meeting the following requirements: file a separate return from the spouse and live apart from the spouse for the last half of the year; pay more than half the expenses to maintain the household; a child, stepchild or foster child must stay in that household more than six months of the year as his main residence; and must qualify to claim an exemption on that child.

See Table 5 in Publication 501 and its related rules to determine if the taxpayer can claim an exemption on that child.

more than half the expenses, the household
Julien Bastide/Hemera/Getty Images

Pay more than half the expenses used to maintain the household. The IRS rules do not include all expenses in this calculation. Use the "Keeping Up a Home" worksheet in Publication 501 to figure out the total expenses for maintenance of the household and whether the taxpayer paid more than half.

the categories, individuals, who, the head
Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Check the categories of individuals who may qualify under the head of household rule as a "qualifying person." Certain children and relatives qualify under this rule. These individuals must qualify as a "qualifying child" or "qualifying relative" in Table 5 of Publication 501 and meet all conditions in Table 4 of Publication 501. Refer to the rules in those tables to determine if a dependent of the taxpayer qualifies.

Live with a "qualifying person" for more than half the year. Do not include time at a boarding school or other temporary time away from the home. A parent who is also a dependent of the taxpayer does not have to live in the same home to qualify under this test. However, the taxpayer must pay more than half the maintenance expenses of that parent's separate household.

About the Author

Jimmy Boyd has a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has been writing articles on law and a variety of other topics since 2004. His work appears at, eHow and