Filing Taxes As Head Of Household: Requirements And Restrictions

Posted on: 17 January 2017


Most people know that they can file their taxes as a single person or as a married couple. But there's also an entirely different class of filing: "head of household." A head of household is an individual who has dependents who aren't their spouse. This type of filing conveys very similar benefits to filing as a married individual, including substantial tax breaks -- but it has to be understood to be used.

Filing With Qualified Dependents

Who is a head of household? Many people are of the mistaken belief that a head of household's dependents have to be directly related to them -- but that isn't necessarily true. A head of household can be any of the following, provided that the dependent in question does not make over a certain threshold amount:

  • A single parent who has children living with them under the age of 18.
  • An individual who is supporting their live-in girlfriend or boyfriend. 
  • An individual who is supporting their live-in parent or grandparent.

The threshold amount for a dependent changes from year to year, but is generally the same amount as the threshold for needing to file a tax return. In 2016, an individual making less than $5,500 could qualify as someone's dependent.

Avoiding the Most Common Mistakes

Because filing as a head of household is uncommon, there are many mistakes that can be made throughout the filing. Some of the most common mistakes include:

  • Filing with dependent children when the dependent children have already been filed on the other parent's return. The dependent children should be filed with the individual who has primary custody.
  • Filing with parents who are not currently living with the individual or did not live with the individual for at least six months out of the year. Parents who are supported but who are out of the home, such as in a retirement home, may not qualify.
  • Filing with a dependent who has already claimed themselves on their own tax return. This commonly happens when an individual did not realize that their dependent made more than they thought, such as a minor child who has a part-time job.

Though filing as head of household may be more complex than filling as a single individual, it can improve a tax return quite dramatically. Moreover, if you already claim a certain amount of dependents on your paycheck, you could find yourself paying into your tax bills at the end of the year if you don't claim them on your return. 

For more information, talk to a professional like Zara Rhone CPA Inc.