Question

I separated from my spouse in 2020. In this impending divorce and tax filing scenario, do I qualify to file as head of household (HOH)?

Answer

Maybe. With a head of household divorce situation, if you’re separated from your spouse, you must meet these conditions to file as head of household:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien for the entire year.
  • You must not be married or be considered unmarried on the last day of the year.
  • You must be entitled to a dependency exemption for the qualifying person even if you waived the exemption.
  • You’re considered unmarried for head of household purposes if:
    • You’re single, legally divorced, or separated under a final decree of divorce or separation.
    • You live apart from your spouse every day for the last six months of the year. You and your spouse are considered to have lived together even if one or both of you are temporarily absent from your home. If you and your spouse plan to share a common household in the future, you can’t be considered head of household.
    • Your spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year, and you don’t choose to treat him or her as a resident alien.
    • You do both of these:
      • File a separate return
      • Maintain over half of the cost of a household during the entire taxable year that was the main home of a:
        • Qualifying child
        • Stepchild
        • Eligible foster child for the year

Costs of maintaining your home include:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage payments
  • Real estate taxes
  • Utility charges
  • Food eaten in the home

These aren’t considered costs of maintaining the home:

  • Education and medical expenses
  • Clothing
  • Life insurance

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