Generally, the tax rate for taxpayers who qualify for Head of Household filing status is lower than that of Single or Married Filing Separate; in addition, the standard deduction is higher. Together these favorable tax treatments mean you will likely owe less tax if you qualify for HOH filing status.
HOH filing status can be easily misunderstood; in 2011, FTB assessed $26 million in additional tax to nearly 38,000 taxpayers who claimed HOH filing status on their tax return but did not qualify to use it.
If you – or a friend – receive an FTB HOH audit letter, we encourage an immediate response. If you require assistance with your response, or if you feel you have a special situation which may qualify you to file using HOH filing status, we will be happy to assist you; just click the “Contact Us” tab and send us a message.
You may be able to file as Head of Household if you meet all the following requirements.
- You are unmarried or “considered unmarried” on the last day of the year
- If you were married on December 31, but did not live with your spouse for the last six months of the year, you may be ‘considered unmarried’ for HOH. See IRS Pub 17 for more information on ‘considered unmarried.’
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the year.
- Special rules apply when a multiple support agreement; refer to IRS Pub 17.
- A qualifying person lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences.)
- A qualifying person must meet the definition of Qualifying Child or Qualifying Relative as defined in IRS Pub 17.
- Parents and kidnapped children may qualify even if they did not live with you; refer to IRS Pub 17 for these exceptions.
- To determine how many days the person lived with you, you must count the number of ‘nights’ the person slept in your home.
- A qualifying person cannot qualify more than one taxpayer for HOH filing status for the year.