Your Guide to Filing Taxes as the Head of Household

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If you’ve ever prepared your taxes, you may have been intrigued by this term – Head of Household.

Head of Household isn’t just a fancy title, it’s a specific term that has tax implications, and knowing how to file your taxes can save you, or cost you, money on your tax bill.

Here is a short guide to filing your taxes as a Head of Household.

Are You a Head of Household?

A Head of Household is someone who is considered unmarried, pays for more than half of the household’s expenses, and has a qualifying child or dependent. You must be all three things to qualify. If you are married, then you must file as Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. If you are unmarried but pay less than half of the household’s expenses or you don’t have a qualifying dependent, then you file as a single filer.

The only one with a bit of ambiguity is what is “considered unmarried.” This is something that must be true on the last day of the tax year.

To qualify, you must file a separate tax return, paid for more than half of the cost of maintaining your home, your spouse did not live in the home during the last six months of the tax year, and your home was the main home of a child, stepchild, or foster child for at least six months. Lastly, you have to be able to claim that child as a dependent.

If you experience a temporary absence, which is when a spouse lives out of the home for purposes of going to school, military service, medical treatment, or a vacation; then you don’t qualify as “considered unmarried.” There must not be an expectation that the spouse returns after the absence.

For the first rule, paying for more than half of household expenses, you should take all household expenses into account. This includes your mortgage or rent payment as well as maintenance, insurance, utilities, repairs, and even food. Everything to maintain the home is included.

Finally, the qualifying child or dependent is one that has a clear definition as well. For qualifying children, they must be single or, if they are married, eligible for you to claim as a dependent. 

You can also claim your mother or father as a dependent. Otherwise, they must be related to you and live with you for more than half the year. If you can claim them as a dependent, then they qualify for purposes of a Head of Household filing status.

If you are unsure, you can always use the IRS’s tool for determining your filing status.

Tax Benefits of Filing as Head of Household

There are benefits to filing as a Head of Household such as a larger standard deduction and better tax brackets.

For the 2020 tax year, the standard deduction for a head of household is $18,650, compared to just $12,400 for a single filer. It’s less than the standard deduction amount for married couples and surviving spouses. The tax rates are also more favorable.

If you are considering filing as a Head of Household, be very careful to look over the rules and ensure you satisfy them. The IRS is likely to review these very carefully to make sure you truly qualify.

TurboTax Has You Covered

Don’t worry about knowing these tax benefits. TurboTax has you covered and will ask you simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers. 

If you still have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live tax expert with an average of 12 years experience to get your tax questions answered. TurboTax Live tax experts are available in English and Spanish, year-round, and can also review, sign, and file your tax return.

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