How to Determine the Head of Household

The head of household designation entitles the status holder to receive a tax rate that is lower than the tax rate for those with single or married filing status. However, it is a restricted status. Those who wish to file as head of household must meet all of the requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to qualify.

Compare your relationship status to that required for the head of household status. According to the IRS, those filing as the head of household must be unmarried or considered unmarried by the last day of the filing year. To be considered unmarried, your spouse must have lived in a separate residence for at least the last six months of the year, you must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining your home, the qualifying child must have lived with you for more than half the year and you must be filing a separate return.

Determine whether your house residents qualify as dependents. Head of household taxpayers must have been living with a qualifying child or relative for at least half of the year. The qualifying child must be under age 19 or a full-time student under age 24. The child can be a birth child, step child, adopted child, grand child, brother or half brother, sister or half sister, niece or nephew. The child must have lived with you for more than half of the filing year and must not have been responsible for more than half of his financial needs. A qualifying relative can be a birth child, stepchild, grandchild, adopted child, brother or half brother or stepbrother, sister or half-sister or stepsister, parent or stepparent, grandparent, son-, daughter-, brother-, sister, mother- or father-in-law, uncle, aunt nephew or niece.

Calculate your contribution to household expenses. The head of the household must have paid more than half of the cost of keeping the home during the filing year.

Check your residency status. The head of household filing status is available to those who are citizens or legal residents of the United States.