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Define IRS Head of Household

Criteria

To file as a Head of Household, according to the IRS, a "qualifying person" must derive her support from you and live in your home for more than half of the year. Qualifying persons include your children, regardless of age, who are living under your roof. Also, their spouses, though an in-law must qualify as an exemption. An exception to the rule exists for your parents, who may reside elsewhere and still qualify, as long as you are paying their upkeep. Any residential relative who is not paying his fair share of your housing costs may also be considered a "qualifying person".

Tax Advantages

Middle class taxpayers qualifying as Heads of Households benefit from a higher standard deduction and a lower tax rate than those who file as "single." For tax year 2009, the standard deduction for a Head of Household was $8,340 compared to $5,700 for those who filed returns as a "single filer".

Other Options for Parents of Minor Children

Widows or widowers with dependent children should choose the filing status designed for their specific circumstance rather than as Heads of Households, as doing so should result in even larger savings. Likewise, all working parents who support school-aged children on modest incomes should determine if they are entitled to the Earned Income Tax Credit.

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