Head of Household

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Head of Household

An individual in one family setting who provides actual support and maintenance to one or more individuals who are related to him or her through Adoption, blood, or marriage.

The designation head of household, also termed head of family, is applied to one whose authority to exercise family control and to support the dependent members is founded upon a moral or legal obligation or duty.

Head of household is also a filing status for federal income taxpayers. There are five basic categories of tax statuses: (1) single persons; (2) heads of households; (3) married taxpayers filing joint returns; (4) married taxpayers filing separate returns; and (5) surviving spouses. Each of these persons pays at different rates. The tax rates for single persons are ordinarily higher than rates for heads of household, while rates for a Husband and Wife filing a joint return are lower.

In order for an individual to qualify as head of household for Income Tax purposes, the person need not be unmarried all year as long as the person is unmarried on the final day of the tax year. In addition, the person must support and maintain a household to the extent that his or her monetary contribution exceeds one-half of the total cost of maintenance. The person's home must be the main place of residence of one relative, with the exception of a mother and father, for the whole year. Relatives include children, grandchildren, stepchildren, brothers and sisters, half brothers or half sisters, and stepbrothers and stepsisters. The individual's parents need not reside in the same home as the taxpayer for him or her to claim this status, provided the person meets the support requirements specified.

Homestead exemption statutes, which have been passed in a majority of jurisdictions, permit a head of household to designate a house and land as a homestead and exempt it from execution for general debts in the event of Bankruptcy. In addition, some states make available property tax exemptions for homestead property. Such statutes often require the formal recording of a declaration of homestead.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

head of household

n. 1) in federal income tax law, the person filing a tax return who manages the household which has dependents such as children and/or other dependent relatives living in the home, but does not file on a joint return with a spouse. The calculation of taxes is somewhat more favorable to a head of household than to a person finally singly. 2) anyone who manages the affairs of the family living in a household, who need not be the husband/father or wife/mother, but could be a grandparent, uncle, aunt, son or daughter. 3) "head of family."

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
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