Quick guide

Guide: Head of Household vs. Single?

Last updated:

December 8, 2022

If you are wondering about when you should use the filing statuses ‘Single’ versus ‘Head of Household’, you are not the only one.  To file as Head of Household you will need to meet a number of requirements:

  1. You must not be married as of the last day of the year (December 31, 2022)
  2. You must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home
  3. You must have a qualifying person that lived with you in your home for more than half the year.

So if you cannot meet these requirements, you should not be filing as Head of Household.  If you are still unsure, let's take a look at each requirement.

Must be unmarried

If you were married as of the last day of the year, you may still be able to file as Head of Household.  You can find out more information on our resource page for ‘Married Filing Separately’  [Link]

Must have paid for more than half the cost of keeping up your home

When calculating the expenses for keeping up your home, make sure you consider rent, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, insurance on the home, repairs, utilities, and food eaten in the home.  Generally speaking, since the requirement is that you have paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home, you cannot have a home that has two taxpayers who file as head of household in it.

Must have a qualifying person that lived with you in your home for more than half the year

  1. Who is a qualifying person
  1. Your dependent child (such as a son, daughter, or grandchild)
  2. One of your parents if you can claim them as a dependent
  3. Your dependent relative (but not a cousin) who lived with you for more than half the year
  1. Lived with you for more than half the year
  1. There are some exceptions for temporary absences for dependent children
  1. If your dependent child is away at school
  2. Born (or died) during the year
  3. Children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart
  1. There are some exceptions for parents who are a qualifying person who does not live with you, if:
  1. You paid for more than half of the expenses for your parent’s house that was the main home of your parent
  2. You paid for more than half of the expenses for your parent

If you have more questions about filing Head of Household versus Single, check out the IRS’ webpage and tool for determining your filing status here: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/what-is-my-filing-status