Head of Household Law and Legal Definition

Head of household, in the context of federal income tax law, refers to an unmarried person filing an individual tax return who manages the household which has dependents such as children and/or other dependent relatives living in the home as their principal residence. In certain circumstances, you do not need to claim the child as a dependent to qualify for head of household filing status, such as when the qualifying child is unmarried child and is your grandchild, stepchild, or adopted child.

You can file as head of household even though you do not claim your unmarried dependent child as an exemption if you meet all of 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 must live with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences such as school).

The calculation of taxes is somewhat less for a head of household than a person who is not the head of household.