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Legal Questions about Head of Household Status

Claiming “Head of Household” has many benefits while filing tax returns, but there are also many common misconceptions about how you can assume the head of household status. This can often lead to confusion and questions about the head of household laws.

Listed below are a few questions related to Head of Household claims that have been answered by Experts.

Is it legal for a person who is married to someone who makes $150k+ every year to file taxes as a single individual and Head of Household for two years, in order to get a bigger refund? Can the IRS prosecute them?

It is definitely illegal to file a tax return that is false in order to get a bigger refund. The individual could be prosecuted under Title 26 USC § 7201 for attempting to evade tax and could be imprisoned for up to five years or be fined up to $250,000. This could also be seen as violating state laws if the state also imposes tax. IRS will determine if they should file criminal charges or not. But they will most likely investigate the case.

I am employed and am also the Head of Household. On our mortgage, I am listed as the primary homeowner. I am now thinking of divorcing my husband but somehow feel forced to stay in an effort to avoid credit problems. My husband won’t leave the house, is not committed to fund the mortgage, and feels I should leave if I have a problem. What should I do?

There are a few things to consider here. If you decide to file for divorce, the court would probably split the property equitably which does not necessarily mean equally. They would consider factors like how much you contribute to the marriage, how long the two of you have been married, the reasons your marriage is ending, and more. If you can prove you are the primary earner in the house, then the court could possibly end up awarding you the home. It is up to you to decide when you are ready to move on and take the next step.

I maintain a home for my children who I see two nights a week on an average. I am the non-custodial parent and have read the formal definition of Head of Household. Do I meet the qualifications for it with my child support payments?

Based on the qualifying relative rules, certain dependants need not live with the taxpayer all through the year. In other words, children, grandchildren, siblings, and parents have no residency requirements. But to classify as Head of Household the person needs to live with you for more than half a year. Therefore, you may not be eligible for this status.

A friend of mine was awarded full custody of their child last September. The child soon moved in with them. Now they are filing their tax returns and want to know if they can claim Head of Household if the child stayed with them on the last day of the year.

In order for your friend to file as Head of Household the child in question must have stayed with the tax filer for more than half a year. If custody was only awarded in September, then the taxpayer could not have had the child for the majority of the year. Therefore, he would not classify as Head of Household for that particular year.

As a tax payer, claiming a head of household status can offer many benefits, but making a false claim could also land you in a lot of trouble. It is best to be sure of your rights while filing as the head of the household. An easy way to do this is to arm yourself with the knowledge of Experts in the field.
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