Tax guide

Can a married person claim the Head of Household filing status?

Updated July 2020

The rules for filing with the Head of Household status are designed to help single persons with dependents, but in some cases, married persons can claim the Head of Household filing status.

To qualify for the Head of Household filing status while married, you must:

  • File your taxes separately from your spouse
  • Pay more than half of the household expenses
  • Not have lived with your spouse for the last 6 months of the year
  • Provide the principle home of a qualifying dependent
  • Claim an exemption for your dependent

If you meet all of these requirements, you may file as Head of Household while married.

Single and want to claim Head of Household? The rules are only slightly different—you must:

  • Pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home
  • Have a qualifying child or relative who lived with you in the home for more than half the year. But if the qualifying relative is your parent, he or she does not have to live with you. You must be able to claim the parent as a dependent, and you must pay more than half of the cost of the parent's household expenses.

Filing with the Head of Household status is beneficial for increasing how much of the Earned Income Credit (EIC) you qualify for, since having a child dependent qualifies you for a greater tax break:

  • $529 with no qualifying children
  • $3,526 with one qualifying child
  • $5,828 with two qualifying children
  • $6,557 with three or more qualifying children

Read more about filing status in the Tax Guide.

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