Have the requirements for filing head of household changed?

February 27, 2006

From:  J.B.
Date:  Sat, 28 Jan 2006

I always thought that filing as a head of household and qualifying to claim a dependent were different.

Answer

Date:  Thu, 09 Feb 2006

Hello J.B.,

The requirements used to be different. Effective for 2005 the rules to qualify to claim an exemption deduction for a dependent and to file as a head of household have been dramatically changed. As a result, many people who were eligible to file as a head of household in the past will no longer qualify when preparing their 2005 individual income tax returns. These rules are too complex to explain here. The taxpayer must maintain as his home a household which, for more than one-half of the tax year, is the principal place of abode of (1) a qualifying child of the taxpayer (usually requires relationship, meeting age and income requirements) or (2) any other person who is a dependent of the taxpayer, provided they are entitled to claim a dependency deduction for that person. You can still qualify to file as a head of household if you maintain a residence for your parents.

With the changes for a "qualifying child" focusing more on relationship and place of residence instead of financial support, some unmarried couples will find the dependent falls on the wrong tax return.

In addition, many single parents who provide housing for adult children will find they no longer qualify to file as a head of household.

If you’re unhappy with this situation, write your representatives in Congress!

Good luck!
Mike Gray

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