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When to File Your Taxes as “Head of Household”

If you are in the midst of a divorce proceeding, but your marriage is not yet dissolved at the end of a calendar year, you may be able to choose Head of Household (HOH) as your filing status. There are multiple potential benefits if you are eligible for HOH status.

Requirements in Order to File as HOH

There are three requirements you must meet in order to be able to file your taxes using the HOH status. First, you must provide more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year. Second, a dependent needs to live in your home for more than half the year. Lastly, you typically must be either unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year to be able to file your federal income taxes utilizing the HOH status.

When a Married Person can File as HOH

There is, however, one exception where a married person can file as a HOH. This is known as the Abandoned Spouse Rule. A married person can qualify as an abandoned spouse if the following requirements are met:

  • The person has filed a separate return from his or her spouse;
  • The person has lived apart from his or her spouse during the last six (6) months of the year;
  • The person has paid more than half the cost of maintaining his or her home for the year; and
  • The home has served for more than half the year as the principal home of a qualifying child, for whom a personal exemption deduction is allowed.

Benefits of Filing as HOH

There are a number of benefits that a taxpayer can take advantage of if he or she is able to file as HOH. First, the taxpayer will benefit from very favorable tax rates that are comparable to the rates available to a married couple filing jointly and lower than those that apply when a taxpayer uses the Married Filing Separately status. Please see the table below for the HOH tax rates in 2014.

Tax Rates for the Year 2014
Head of Household

Tax Rate Income over amount Income up to amount
10% $0 $12,950
15% $12,950 $49,400
25% $49,400 $127,550
28% $127,550 $206,600
33% $206,600 $405,100
35% $405,100 $432,200
39.6% $432,200


Another significant benefit of the HOH filing status is that more deductions are available to someone filing as HOH than someone whose filing status is Married Filing Separately. Lastly, the taxpayer that files using the HOH status benefits from not being jointly and severally liable for his or her spouse’s taxes, because the HOH taxpayer is able to file a separate return.


The Law Offices of Edward P. Graham, Ltd. can offer over twenty-five years’ experience in the area of family law. This firm is ready to assist those who are facing the prospect of divorce and who wish to consider their options while weighing the tax consequences. Contact us at (630) 357-2333 or visit our website at for more information.

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