Filing as head of household (HOH) can be highly beneficial for single parents and unmarried citizens. Being cast as the head of household entitles you to a higher standard deduction and lower tax rates.
But there are things to consider before filing. Here are 5 steps to follow in filing taxes as HOH:
Only those who are unmarried or considered unmarried by the law would qualify as head of household. For those who were married but are legally separated, you must show proof that you filed a separate tax return. There must also be a proof that you have not lived with your spouse (or ex-spouse), in the past six months.
If you are a single parent, filing an HOH is not the only way you can get benefits. NetPlaces.com has a superb article on the exemptions single parents can enjoy.
Qualification for Dependents
Your dependent could be any person in relation to you, as long as they have lived with you for a year. Even an adopted child can be your dependent, as long as they qualify.
For your child to be a qualifying person, he/she needs to live with you for more than half a year, be 24 and under and a full-time student, or be disabled. If your parent is your qualifying person, he/she must have limited income (gross income of $3800, apart from Social Security).
As part of your requirement, you must have paid more than half of the household costs for a year. This is if you’re not the only one who pays for the household expenses. List the total of the amount you paid and what others contributed.
Household costs don’t include public assistance payments, clothing, hospital, insurance or transportation expenses. You can check out the form in IRS’ Publication 501.
Other Qualifying Issues
There are some notable cases to look at for the dependent. You can file a person as your dependent even if you don’t live in the same house. He/she may be in a hospital because of sickness, or away for college, or on military service. There is a particular filing status for each state as well, so you better check those out as well.
If you’re separated with your spouse, and both of you claim exemption for your child, but the child is living with you, you need to fill out Form 8332, or Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. Both parents can’t claim exemption for the same child.
When everything is settled, you may now file your status and your dependent exemptions. Just make sure you have all the needed documents before you head out to the office.
All these steps might seem cumbersome because of all the documents you need to file. But all it takes is a little patience. Filing your status as head of the household can help you save a lot of money that you can use somewhere else.