How to Qualify as the Person for a Head of Household Exemption

Fill out form 1040 or 1040A to claim head of household status.

Fill out form 1040 or 1040A to claim head of household status.

Being the head of your household equals big savings at tax time. You need to meet three rules to qualify as head of household on your tax return. If you qualify, you get to take a larger standard deduction than you would if you filed as a single person. Head of household status also means you fall into a lower tax bracket than single people or people who file a separate return.

Marital Status

Look at the third finger on your left hand. If there's a ring on it, you can't file as head of household. The status is only open to single people or to people who are considered unmarried by the Internal Revenue Service.The IRS will kindly consider you "unmarried" if your partner has moved out and has been moved out for all of the last six months of the year. You do need to a have a qualifying child that you supported for more than half of the year if you want the IRS to consider you unmarried and let you file as head of household.

Household Costs

You can be single and not able to qualify for head of household status if you don't pay over 50 percent of the costs of keeping up your home for the year. That means if your parents cover your rent and other expenses, you're out of luck. Items that count toward the cost of your home include things like your mortgage or rent payment, taxes you pay on property and utilities. It also includes the cost of food that you eat at home. Paying for things like the upkeep of your car, restaurant food and clothing doesn't count as part of your household costs.

Dependents

The last rule the IRS has for head of household status is that another person needs to live with you for more than half of the year. That person can't just be anyone, like a roommate. He needs to be your child, a parent or another relative. The person needs to be your dependent, which means you have to pay for more than half of his expenses. Qualifying relatives can't have income above $3,700 as of 2011.

Loopholes

Every set of rules has a set of exceptions, which holds true for head of household status too. Although usually a qualifying person needs to live with you for most of the year, that rule doesn't stick if the person happens to be your mom or dad. You do need to pay for more than half of the total costs of keeping up your parent's home if he doesn't live with you. You can also claim the status if you are married to a person who is a nonresident alien of the United States. If you go that route, your spouse doesn't count as a qualifying person, so you still need a child or other qualifying relative.

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.

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