Glossary of Tax Terms: Head of Household

The term “head of household” refers to a filing status on a tax return available to unmarried people caring for children or parents.

In simple terms, head of household creates a standard deduction and a tax bracket that is halfway between the single and married filing jointly filing statuses.

Here are the requirements for filing as head of household:

  • You must be unmarried at the end of the year
  • You must pay more than half the maintenance and upkeep of a home
  • A qualifying person lived with you (generally your children or your parents)

The “qualifying person” doesn’t always have to live with you (a parent, for example, doesn’t have to live with you).

Special rules apply in cases of separated parents who lived apart for the last 6 months of the year but who aren’t officially divorced yet.

For more information, consult IRS Publication 502, pages 8 and 9.