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head of household filing status explained

When tax season rolls around, individuals and families are presented with a myriad of choices regarding how to file their taxes. One such choice is determining your filing status. One often misunderstood but highly beneficial filing status is “Head of Household.” In this article, we will break down the details of the Head of Household filing status, helping you grasp its eligibility requirements, advantages, and how to claim it correctly. 

What is the Head of Household Filing Status? 

The head of household (HoH) filing status is a tax classification that is designed to provide tax benefits to individuals who are considered the primary financial supporters of their household. It offers a more favorable tax rate and a higher standard deduction compared to the single filing status. 


Opting for the HoH filing status can offer several advantages, including: 

  1. Lower Tax Rates: The tax brackets for head of household filers are typically more favorable than those for single filers, potentially leading to a reduced tax liability. For example, a single filer who earns $50,000 a year is in the 22% tax bracket while a head of household filer earning the same amount is in the 12% tax bracket. 
  2. Higher Standard Deduction: The standard deduction for head of household filers is higher than that for single filers, which can further lower your taxable income. For example, single filers can take a standard deduction of $13,850 for 2023, while HoH filers can take a standard deduction of $20,800. 
  3. Access to Tax Credits: As a head of household filer, you may qualify for various tax credits, such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can provide substantial tax savings. 
  4. More Deductions: You might be eligible for certain deductions, like those related to education or dependent care expenses, that can help further reduce your taxable income. 

Eligibility Criteria 

To qualify for the head of household filing status, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • Unmarried or Considered Unmarried: You must be unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year. 
  • Maintaining a Household: You must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a household for a qualifying person. A qualifying person can be your child, stepchild, foster child, or another relative who meets certain residency and support requirements. 
  • Living Together: You and your qualifying person must have lived together for more than half of the tax year. Temporary absences, such as education or medical reasons, generally do not affect this requirement.  

How to Claim the Head of Household Filing Status 

To claim the head of household filing status, you’ll need to accurately fill out your tax return. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Gather Documentation: Collect all necessary documents, including income statements, receipts, and relevant information about your qualifying person. 
  2. Complete IRS Form 1040: Use IRS Form 1040 and its instructions to report your income, deductions, and other relevant information. 
  3. Check the Filing Status: On Form 1040, indicate “Head of Household” as your filing status. 
  4. Provide Qualifying Person Details: Provide the necessary details about your qualifying person, such as their name, relationship to you, and Social Security number. 
  5. Calculate Tax Liability: Complete the necessary calculations to determine your tax liability or refund. 


Understanding the head of household filing status can greatly impact your tax situation, leading to potential savings and benefits. By meeting the eligibility requirements and accurately claiming this status, you can ensure that you maximize your tax advantages and reduce your overall tax burden. However, tax laws can be complex and subject to change, so it’s advisable to consult a tax professional or utilize tax preparation software to ensure you’re filing correctly and taking advantage of all available deductions and credits. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations. 

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