Head of Household

Updated on April 4, 2024
Article byPeter Johnson
Edited byPeter Johnson
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is a Head of Household (HOH)?

Head of Household (HOH) is a tax filing status that individuals can qualify for. To be considered the Head of Household, the taxpayer must pay over half the costs of maintaining a house. Individuals who qualify as HOH can receive certain benefits like higher tax deductions and a lower tax rate.

To be considered as the Head of the Household while filing tax, the individual should be considered unmarried. Additionally, the HOH should be supporting a dependent for more than a six-months.

Key Takeaways

  • Head of household is a tax status individuals can qualify for when it comes time to file taxes.
  • To be eligible for Head of household, individuals must meet at the very least three criteria. They should not married, should have paid more than half of the expenses to support their home, and provide support for another dependent living with them for over half the year.
  • People who qualify for HOH receive certain financial benefits like a lower tax bracket, higher capital gains tax threshold, and an increased standard deduction.

Head of Household

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Head of Household Requirements

To qualify for HOH tax benefits, individuals must meet all of the below-mentioned requirements.

  1. Should not be married.
  2. Should pay over 50% of the costs to support the house. (Rent, utilities, groceries, etc.)
  3. Should live with a qualifying member of the family providing support for over half the year.

The qualifying member of the family or qualifying dependent must live with the HOH for at least six months in order to meet the criteria. Examples of qualifying dependents include the following.

  • Children
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Grandchild
  • Grandparents
  • Mother
  • Father
  • Boyfriend/ Girlfriend

Failing to meet the listed criteria will make individuals ineligible to HOH tax filing status.

#1 – Temporary Situations

There are certain exceptions to the HOH tax rule. For example, if individuals have children that go to school and live away from home for a part of the year, they can still be eligible for the Head of the Household status according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

This can also be applied to situations involving business, military service, vacation, illness, or juvenile detention.

#2 – Parent Dependents

Even if the mother or father does not live with an HOH, the individual can qualify. In such a situation, the HOH must be able to claim the parent as a dependent. Furthermore, the HOH must be paying half the expenses for maintaining the parent’s household. This expense should be made within a year’s time.

This exception can also include half the expenses of a retirement home where the mother or father of the HOH is admitted to.  

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Example #1 – Single Mother

Samantha is a single mother raising two children under the age of 19 on her own. She is not married and never has been. In order to support her children, she pays all the bills and expenses by herself.

In this instance, Samantha would qualify for Head of the Household status.

Example #2 – College Student

Michael has a son, who is 18 years old, enrolled at school full time, and lives away from home for a portion of the year. Michael’s son pays some of his own expenses. But this amount is less than half of the amount required to support him. Michael is also recently divorced.

Michael would also qualify for HOH status.

Example #3 – Married Taxpayers

Josh and Sabeena are married and filed their taxes together. They have three children, all under the age of 19. Josh and Sabeena split the bills and paid for all the expenses themselves.

Since they are married and filed their taxes together, neither will be eligible for the HOH status.

Head of Household and Taxes

Individuals who qualify for the Head of household tax filing status can redeem certain financial advantages because they are providing for other people as well themselves.  

#1 – Lower Tax Bracket

Tax Brackets

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One of the most significant advantages individuals receive when filing as Head of household is qualifying for a lower tax bracket. The tax bracket change saves them a considerable amount of money if eligible.

The most significant difference can be observed in the first couple of tax brackets. For example, those in the lowest tax bracket, paying 10 percent tax, had a cut-off at $9,950 for single individuals. However, for HOHs, the cut-off goes up to $14,201.

For those within the second to lowest tax bracket, workers earning between $9,951 and $40,525 would be taxed at a rate of 12 percent under normal circumstances. But, for HOHs, the income levels change from $14,201 to $54,200. The extra $13,275 in earnings can save those taxpayers a significant amount of money.

#2 – Higher Long-Term Capital Gain Threshold

Long-term capital gains are any income made off of investments or by trading assets. Individuals trading stocks or cryptocurrencies with a profit will be liable to pay a capital gains tax.

There are two different types of capital gain taxes – long and short term. Anything held less than a year is considered short-term, whereas everything held over a year is regarded as a long-term capital gain.

If qualified as HOH, the threshold to be placed in the tax brackets will be higher. For example, individuals making between $40,001 – $441,450 in capital gains will be placed in the 15 percent tax bracket.

But, individuals who qualify for Head of the Household will have a higher threshold. Instead, the 15 percent tax bracket will be applied to HOHs earning between $53,601 – $469,050.

#3 – Increased Standard Tax Deductions

Not only will the HOH earners be placed in a lower tax bracket, but they will also have the ability to claim a higher standard deduction.

Standard tax deductions are used as a way to lower the overall tax bill, like a tax break. It includes a portion of income that will be removed from the taxable income to help reduce the amount of taxes owed.

Standard Tax Deduction

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In 2021, single taxpayers received $12,550 in standard deductions. For the HOH, that increased to $18,800.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who qualifies as Head of the Household?

Head of Households (HOHs) must be legally single, pay more than half of household expenditures, and have an eligible dependent with them for at least half of the year. Additionally, those having a parent for whom they pay more than half of their living arrangements also qualify for HOH status.

What is the difference between Head of household and single?

The basic deductions, requirements, and tax brackets differ depending on whether one file as a single person or as an HOH. Those who are single and unmarried qualify as single, whereas those who have a qualifying child or relative living with them and pay more than half of the costs of their home qualify as HOHs.

Can you be Head of household and married?

An individual must be regarded unmarried on the last day of the year to qualify for the HOH filing status. This implies the individual files taxes separately, pays for more than half of their family’s expenses, and spends less than six months of the year with their spouse.

This has been a guide to Head of Household (HOH) and its Meaning. Here we discuss the requirements of HOH, its qualifications along with examples. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –