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Head of Household

sldcpa
Level 1

I have a client who divorced husband. She is custodial parent and files return as head of household. She is now getting back together with ex-husband and buying a house with him and they will be living together. Is she able to still file head of household once she moves in with ex-husband in the new house that is titled in both of their names? He is the higher wage earner. I am thinking if she pays over half the cost of keeping up the home for the daughter then she could. But how do you prove the ex-husband is not helping her with house costs? Would she need to pay over half the house expenses/food out of her separate bank account to prove that she paid for more than half the expenses? However, that just doesn't seem right. Any help would be appreciated!

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11 Replies 11
qbteachmt
Level 15

Bookmark this link:

https://www.irs.gov/help/ita

That is Interactive Tax Assistant; one is "What is my filing status?"

You would learn what meets HOH status.

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PATAX
Level 10

Your intuition when you say it doesn't seem right is correct in my opinion... I would not get involved with the matter if I was you but you do what you want to do...  just my opinion

 

 

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Just-Lisa-Now-
Level 15
Level 15

"Would she need to pay over half the house expenses/food out of her separate bank account to prove that she paid for more than half the expenses? "

She would need some kind of proof that she pays MORE than 50% of the household bills to qualify for HOH, which sounds doubtful if theyre living together and he makes more money.  Your due diligence will come into play in the situation, she may not even get much more benefit being HOH over Single, I find that lots of times it doesnt make a difference or not enough difference that Im willing to risk the due diligence penalty.

 


♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥Lisa♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
PATAX
Level 10

Sound Advice Lisa... I believe that due diligence penalty is $540 which may result in the IRS examining other returns and even more potential due diligence penalties... Is it worth it? I don't think so, but that is just my opinion...

qbteachmt
Level 15

We don't know what "getting back together" means.The one parent might qualify for HOH.

Example: They can't be married to each other and file HOH; but two unmarried people, each with a child, can be a two HOH household, as long as each is paying more than half of the costs for themselves and their own child(ren), such as two friends making a home for their kids.

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sldcpa
Level 1

They only have one child. But getting back together means that they are a couple again. He pays her alimony in a pre 2018 divorce so he deducts the alimony and she claims it as income.

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qbteachmt
Level 15

"But getting back together means that they are a couple again."

That's not a TaxPayer Unit descriptor.

Him making More or not, also isn't part of this.

Scenario example: He pays her alimony. They decide to move back in together, but not remarry. She continues to pay all the bills she paid while single. They Split the mortgage and related housing costs. She covers all cost for the child. Etc.

Follow what the IRS states, and then what they do is applied to what is required. As Lisa described: it's your Due Diligence to file properly.

It's pretty much everywhere for reference:

https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/filing/personal-tax-planning/what-is-head-of-household-status/

https://smartasset.com/taxes/what-you-need-to-know-about-filing-head-of-household

 

 

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jeffmcpa2010
Level 8

Even though the advice is not necessarily tax related, 

THIS IS A BAD IDEA!. Especially buying a house together. This is one of those times where I usually decide the client comes to me because they value my opinion, and they would be about to receive my opinion if I was working with them.

Terry53029
Level 11
Level 11

According to the IRS, taxpayers who share the same physical address must prove that they live as separate households, and that they have independent lives outside the residence. Some factors that can weigh in favor of two separate households sharing the same physical residence might include the following:

 
  • Each family has separate telephone lines.
  • The taxpayers maintain separate finances and separate bank accounts.
  • Neither family contributes financial support to the other.
  • The adult taxpayers have separate bedrooms.
  • The children have separate bedrooms.
  • The family members don't celebrate holidays or birthdays together.
PATAX
Level 10

Great post Terry...

Skylane
Level 8
Level 8

Edit:   They are unmarried. They live together. He is the higher wage earner. She can claim the child by agreement or divorce decree. Her filing status is single.

fwiw, she could be eligible for the eitc.  It is much simpler to default to the higher income earner than go through the gyrations of trying to prove something that could take hours to figure out and justify. The IRS should accept the higher income earner. as someone in this thread stated, with a dependent the difference between single and hoh is probably minimal.