Claiming Head of Household on Your Taxes

by Angela M. Wheeland, Demand Media

    The head of household filing status offers a tax reward to single taxpayers. If you’re single and supply a home for your kids, you can claim head of household, which allows you to claim a larger standard deduction. If you’re married, you can also claim the head of household status, but your situation must meet certain criteria.

    How Much Money Do You Get for Claiming Head of Household on Your Income Tax?

    When you claim head of household, you don’t actually receive more money on your income tax return. Filing as head of household reduces your taxable income, which will cut your tax. The only way you’ll receive more money from filing head of household is if you had extra tax withheld from your paycheck or meet the requirements to claim refundable tax credits, which can include the earned income credit, American opportunity credit and the additional child tax credit.

    Can a Spouse Claim Head of Household if the Dependent Is a Registered Alien?

    Resident aliens are treated the same way that the IRS treats U.S. citizens. If you're married to a resident alien, file your income taxes using the married filing jointly or married filing separately status. If you're married to a nonresident alien, the IRS lets you decide whether to claim your spouse on your taxes. To see which situation will result in the lowest tax burden, complete your taxes with your husband, then without him. If you file without claiming him, you can claim either head of household or married filing separately, but to claim head of household, you must also provide a home for another qualifying child or relative. If you decide to file with your husband, the IRS will consider him a resident alien and you should file using the married filing jointly status.

    Can an Absent Head of Household Claim a Dependent on His Taxes?

    When a family member is absent from a household, the IRS still views the home as a family dwelling. If you’re absent from your home due to education, business, vacation, illness or military, you might still qualify for the head of household filing status even though you’re not currently living in the home. If you assume that you’ll return to your home after your absence, continue to pay the bills while you’re absent, and maintain a home for a qualifying person, your absence will not affect whether you can claim the head of household filing status.

    Can a Single Mom Claim Head of Household If She's Paying Rent?

    If a single mom is living with another family member or a friend, whether she can claim the head of household filing status depends on how much she paid to live in the home. Generally, to claim head of household, a single mother must pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home, which can include rent, taxes, mortgage, rent, utilities, repairs, insurance and food eaten in the home. If the single mom is paying only the rent, the other bills in the house can’t exceed the cost of the rent for her to qualify as head of household.

    Can You Claim Head of Household If Married?

    Some special circumstances allow married taxpayers to claim the head of household filing status even though they are married. If you lived apart from your significant other for the last six months of the tax year, the IRS considers you unmarried. To claim head of household while married, you must pay more than half the cost to keep a home, provide a home for a qualifying child for more than half the year and have the rights to claim the qualifying child.

    About the Author

    Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.