Being aware of the right tax knowledge will take the guesswork and stress of filing a tax return as a single mother and will help you in saving a lot of money. There are a lot of tax law provisions that are designed to offer financial help for people who are raising kids alone. Therefore single mothers should know the right way of filing taxes and how it can prove advantageous for them. Single mothers can qualify for the Head of the Household filing status that will offer them a big standard deduction and favorable tax brackets. Filing a tax return as the Head of the Household offers two main benefits-1) You can claim a higher standard deduction and 2) You can earn more money compared to single filers before moving into the next highest tax bracket. The rules and regulations for Head of the Household filing status may be complicated and come with significant benefits therefore it is always advisable for single mothers to talk to a tax professional to learn whether they can qualify for the status or not.
Can A Single Mom Claim Head Of Household?
In case you have filed taxes earlier you must be acquainted with the filing statuses. Common terms like ‘Married’, ‘Filing jointly’, ‘Filing separately’, and ‘Single’ seem fairly clear, however, the Head of the Household (HOH) might make you scratch your head. This guide will help you to learn details about claiming the Head of the Household and what are the important details about filing your tax return.
A lot of people wonder ‘Can a single mom file as Head of the Household or not’. Head of the Household refers to a filing status that can be claimed when an individual is unmarried or single and is maintaining a home for a qualifying person such as a relative or a child. The Head of the Household status offers a huge deduction and generous tax rates for calculating the federal income tax. Single mothers can file HOH if they can fulfill all the requirements that claim them to be the Head of the Household.
Filing as the Head of the Household will place you in a lower tax bracket compared to single or married filing statuses. You can file a larger standard deduction than while filing as a single and this in turn will help you to pay less amount in taxes. The filing status is created for single parents or those having qualifying dependents so that they can keep the money to pay for maintaining a home for the qualifying person. The requirements for filing for Head of the Household status may be different depending on the state where you are living. If you want to determine your filing status then you can visit the official IRS filing status tool and learn more details.
Requirements To Claim Head Of Household Status
The Head of the Household filing status is difficult to understand by a lot of people. However, understanding all the filing options will help you to minimize the tax you owe. When you meet the eligibility criteria to qualify for Head of the Household filing status you can result in low taxes compared to single status. Single mothers who were unmarried during the tax filing year, have a qualifying or dependent child, and have paid over the expenses of the household can file as Head of the Household. Certain definitions are important to understand to learn whether you qualify for the Head of the Household status or not. Following are the rules that single mothers must meet so that the Internal Revenue Service can help them to claim HOH tax filing status.
1. Considered Unmarried
The last day of the taxable year determines the marital status. Single mothers who aren’t married till the last day of the tax year or are legally divorced, separated, or have separate maintenance on December 31 are considered unmarried before the Internal Revenue Service. Single mothers who are considered unmarried and are filing Head of the Household should file a separate tax return from their partner and must live apart from their spouse during the past six months of the tax year. An important thing to note is that military deployment, temporary absence like job assignment, or temporary incarceration can still be counted as living together.
2. Must Have Paid More Than Half Of The Household Maintenance Cost For The Year
Single mothers who are filing as Head of the Household should have paid more than half of the cost of household maintenance for the year. The cost of maintenance within a taxable year includes mortgage interest, rent, repairs, property taxes, real estate taxes, utilities, insurance or home, and grocery expenses and does not cover any other expenses like life insurance, clothing, vacations, education, mortgage principle, medical treatment, medical insurance premiums, restaurant expenses, rental home value, transportation, services provided by members of the household, etc. When the total amount of money paid exceeds the amount others paid including child support and government assistance programs then single mothers meet the essential requirement of paying half of the household maintenance cost for the taxable year. Receiving alimony or child support doesn’t prevent you from claiming HOH status as long as you are paying more than 50% of the household cost from your savings or own income. Even if you are getting financial help from others you still can claim HOH status if you’re paying more than half of the bills with your own money.
3. Must Maintain The Household For A Qualifying Person
Single mothers can claim Head of the Household if their home has been the principal place of dwelling for a qualifying person such as a child or a relative. Such relationship includes:
- A qualifying child such as a daughter, son, adopted child, eligible foster child stepchild, and grandchild who lives with you for more than half of the year and also meets other essential requirements
- Qualifying relatives that is your mother or father and should meet other requirements
- Qualifying relatives apart from your parents such as brother, sister, or grandparent, and also meet other requirements including staying with you for more than half of the taxable year
If you’re planning to file as HOH with your parents as qualifying persons then it is not required for parents to live with you for more than half of the year. Another exception to this rule is that if you’re planning to file as Head of the Household in your tax return then you meet the eligibility to be considered unmarried for tax purposes and the qualifying person should be limited to your biological child, stepchild, adopted child, or eligible foster child.
What Financial Benefits Can Single Mothers Get By Filing As Head Of The Household?
With the strict rules and eligibility criteria that come with the Head of the Household status, a lot of people wonder why they should have HOH status. This is because filing as a Head of the Household brings numerous financial benefits.
1. Low Tax Rates
Filing HOH brings financial benefits as you get a favorable tax return compared to other filing statuses. Single mothers who are in a lower tax bracket can benefit by reducing their overall tax liability.
2. High Standard Deduction Rate
A standard deduction that reduces your taxable income is known as a standard deduction therefore a higher deduction will result in lower taxable income and will reduce your tax liability. Filing HOH status will impact your standard deduction amount and will help you to reduce your tax liability.
Can Single Mothers File As Head Of The Household If They Have No Children?
Single mothers who do not have any children can still claim their living partner as a qualifying dependent and meet the following essential requirements
- Your qualifying dependent has lived with you legally for the whole year
- You have paid more than half of his total support for the taxable year
- His income does not exceed the mark of $4300
- He is not someone’s qualifying child.
Can You Qualify To File As The Head Of The House?
- If both the single people are unmarried and have kids from their previous relationship then each of them can file as HOH as long as they are adhering to the guidelines and rules of the IRS including each of them paying for half of the home cost for instance evenly spitting the utility and rent payment and paying for their food.
- If both the parents have a child together then only one of them can claim Head of the Household status with the child as the qualifying dependent. IRS considers the child to be a qualifying dependent of only one of the two people.
- In case when only one single person has a child from his or her previous relationship then the biological parent will be eligible to claim Head of the Household status while the other can only claim single status. However, if the biological parent does not work outside the home then the earning partner is eligible to claim Head of the Household status. For claiming the non-earning partner and the child as qualifying dependents you need to make sure your gross income is less than $4300, you provided for more than half of their expenses for the year, the qualifying dependents have lived legally with you for the entire year and neither of them is qualifying child of someone.
The federal government has tax relief for single parents as they raise their children alone and have a lot of challenges to deal with. It is important to explore the tax credits as well as deductions on the IRS website. Filing a Head of the Household status will make you eligible to receive cash refunds for each child and earn more before moving to a higher tax bracket. Tax laws and tax preparation can be tricky and complicated therefore every single parent needs to speak to an expert and make sure they understand the credential benefits that come with filing as Head of the Household.