1040 head of household qualifying person

Is my son a qualifying person for Head of Household filing status?

on January 11, 2012 at 2:10 PM, updated January 11, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Question from Sandy

January 10, 2012 at 1:36pm

I have been supplying a place to live, support, money for bills, car insurance, cell phone and other expenses for my adult son who has been out of work since June. I need to know if I can claim head of household since he has been living with me since July and has had no income since June.

Answer: Sandy - Thank you for your question.

There are several rules that govern using the filing status Head of Household and you can find them in IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.

Here is a summary, from the publication:

You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements.

You are unmarried or “ considered unmarried ” on the last day of the year.

You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.

A “ qualifying person ” lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school).

Based on what you have stated in your question, rule #3 may be the key issue.

Your son must be a qualifying person. Here are two examples (from Publication 501) that will help explain this requiement:

Your unmarried son lived with you all year and was 18 years old at the end of the year. He did not provide more than half of his own support and does not meet the tests to be a qualifying child of anyone else. As a result, he is your qualifying child (see Qualifying Child , later) and, because he is single, is a qualifying person for you to claim head of household filing status.

Example 2—child who is not qualifying person.

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except your son was 25 years old at the end of the year and his gross income was $5,000. Because he does not meet the age test (explained later under Qualifying Child ), your son is not your qualifying child. Because he does not meet the gross income test (explained later under Qualifying Relative ), he is not your qualifying relative. As a result, he is not your qualifying person for head of household purposes.

The age test to be a qualifying child requires that the child be under age 19 at the end of the year or a full time student under the age of 24.

You do not mention his age, but your question implies that he does not meet this age test, and is not your qualifying child.

Under the qualifying relative gross income rule, your son's gross income for the year must have been less than $3,700. If your son's gross income for 2011 was $3,700 or more he is not a qualifying relative and not a qualifying person for you to use Head of Household as your filing status.

If your son is your qualifying relative, then he would need to have lived with you for more than half the year.

You stated that he moved in with you in July, so the final part of the rule #3 comes into play. The full 6 months from July1 thru December 31 equals 184 days, or more than 1/2 of 365.

If he is a qualifying relative, he would have had to moved in no later than July 2, 2011 in order to be a qualifying person.

You can review IRS Publication 501 at the IRS web site, www.irs.gov.

Need tax help? Send in your tax questions to Richard Panick, IRS media relations specialist.

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