How do I Claim Head of Household on my Taxes?

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Answered by: Angela, An Expert in the Filing Status Category
The head of household filing status allows you to claim a larger standard deduction than the single status. A standard deduction is a set amount, determined by your filing status that you can subtract from your taxable income to lower your income tax. When you are not married, legally separated, or married to a nonresident alien and provide a home for a dependent, claiming the head of household status can reduce your tax bill significantly. To claim the head of household filing status, you must use Form 1040A or 1040 to file your income taxes.

Obtain Form 1040A or 1040 and the corresponding instructions from the Internal Revenue Service website. If you are unsure which form you should use, refer to the IRS Tax Topic 352. Claiming the head of household status makes you ineligible to use Form 1040EZ.

Calculate how long you supported your dependent. The IRS requires that you pay over half the cost of keeping up a home for a dependent. The length of time depends on the relationship of your dependent.

Determine whether your dependent is a qualifying child or qualifying relative. A qualifying child is your relative through blood, adoption, or marriage for whom you supply over half the support. The child must be under 19 or under 24 and a full-time student. A qualifying relative is anyone for whom you supply more than half the support, is not a qualifying child, and lived in your home for the full year as a member of your household. If your dependent is a qualifying child, you must have provided a home for more than half the tax year to qualify for the head of household status. If the dependent is a qualifying relative, you must have provided the support for the full year.

Enter your personal information in the top part of Form 1040A or 1040. In this section, you must provide your name, address and Social Security number.

Check the box labeled "Head of Household" to claim the status. Sometimes, a divorce or separation decree allows both parents to alternate claiming a child as a dependent, regardless of whether the child lives in the parent's household or not. If you are the parent of a child for whom u supported, but this is not your year to claim the child, enter the child's name in the line following "Head of Household."

Check the box labeled "Yourself" to inform the IRS that you will claim an exemption for yourself. If another taxpayer can claim you as a dependent, you are ineligible to claim the head of household filing status. An exemption is an additional amount of money that you can reduce your income to lower your tax burden. You can claim an exemption for yourself and each person you are claiming as a dependent.

Enter each of your dependent's name, Social Security number and relationship in the "Dependents" section. If you are claiming head of household but do not have a child to claim due to a divorce or separation decree, leave this section blank.

Enter the total for each section in the "Boxes Checked" section located the right column of the form. Because you are unmarried, enter "1" in the first line and the total number of dependents claimed in the second line. Enter the total in the final line. This number represents your exemptions


Provide all sources of income in the "Income" section of the form and enter the total in the final line of the section. This amount represents your total income. Income includes wages, tips, dividends and unemployment compensation. You can find this information on Form W-2 or 1099.

Enter any adjustments to your income in the "Adjusted Gross Income" section. Adjustments can include educator expenses, tuition and fees or IRA deductions. For more information on adjustments, refer to the form's instructions. Subtract your adjustments from your total income to determine your adjusted gross income.

Enter your standard deduction amount in the line labeled "Standard Deduction." This number fluctuates annually to represent inflation, but you can find the current year amounts in the left column of the form. For example, as of 2012, the standard deduction amount for head of household is $8,500. Subtract your standard deduction from your adjusted gross income.

Enter your total exemption amount in the line labeled "Exemptions." Multiply your number of exemptions by the annual exemption amount. For example, if you are claiming three exemptions and the annual exemption amount is $3,700, your exemption amount is $11,100, or 3 times $3,700. Subtract your exemption amount from your remaining income to determine your taxable income. The IRS will use this amount to determine your tax.

Use the tax chart on the form's instructions to determine your tax and enter this amount in the line labeled "Tax."

Refer to the form's instructions and verify whether you qualify for any additional credits. Some credits, such as the earned income credit, child tax credit and educational credit, will reduce the tax that you owe the IRS. Most credits require you to complete an additional form, which you can obtain from the IRS website.

Subtract your credits from the tax to determine the amount of your refund or tax you owe the IRS. Sign and date the form and attach any supporting documents in the order listed in the form's instructions. Mail the return to the appropriate address, which is also listed in the form's instructions.

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