How to Be a Head of Household

If you qualify as the Head of Household you'll have a lower tax rate and your standard deduction will be higher than if you file as a single or married person. The conditions below must be met to be a Head of Household.

  • Marital status You're unmarried or "considered unmarried" at the end of the tax year.
  • Financial responsibility You have been responsible for paying more than half the payments for running your home throughout the year.
  • Companion A "qualifying person" has been living in the home for more than half the year [source: IRS].

Here's how to be "considered unmarried."

  • You're legally separated or divorced from your spouse. This means that your spouse hasn't lived in the home during the last six months of the year.
  • You're filing a separate tax return.

[source: IRS]If your spouse was a non-resident alien during the year, and you don't treat him or her as a resident alien, you may qualify as the Head of Household. How does a "qualifying person" qualify? A child can be a qualifying person if:

  • Your child, foster child or stepchild is the child in question. Other children can sometimes qualify as a qualifying person. For more information, either consult a professional tax preparer or the IRS website.
  • Your home is the child's main home for more than half the year.
  • You're eligible for a tax exemption for him or her. You might meet this condition even if the other parent claims the tax exemption.

A dependent parent can be a qualifying person if he or she lives in your home. A dependent parent not living in your home may be able to qualify as a qualifying person.
You will need to provide the following documentation to support your claim as Head of Household.

  • A copy of your lease or mortgage, showing that you're the homeowner or primary tenant
  • Proof that you've paid the utility bills
  • School or medical records showing the qualifying person's address as your home [source: Georgia State University]

Hopefully, if you fulfill all these requirements, your Head of Household status will be allowed.