All Things Tax

All Things Tax

Like the title says, from the filing process and tax questions to tax policy and reform, you can search and share All Things Tax here. This is the place to find answers to all your general questions that don't fall under the other categories. And just a reminder: questions about software or online filing should be posted in DIY Products.

Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-04-2017

Head of Household

I apologize if this has been answered before; I'm new and haven't had the chance to navigate through everything yet.


My married parents live with me. The only income they have is social security, and combined I believe is less than $25,000.


I pay 100% of their housing/food, as their money barely covers their medical bills.


Can I start filing as Head of Household, and claim both parents?


Thank you in advance for any help you have! I truly appreciate it.

Trusted Council Member
Posts: 6,191
Registered: ‎02-23-2016

Re: Head of Household

Hi fknross,



Welcome to the H&R Block community.


You might be able to claim your parents, but there is a catch here.


You said that they receive $25,000 or less worth of social security income.  Social security income may not be taxable, but it counts toward the support requirement for dependents and qualifying relatives.  So what you have to do here is figure out if they meet the requirement that you provide more than 50% of their support.  To do that, you should add up all of the costs of keeping up your home (rent or mortgage, utilities, food, repairs, insurance) and compare the total for the year to your parents' income.  If your parents' income is equal to half of the home upkeep cost or more then you won't be able to claim them.


If your parents' income is less than 1/2 of the home upkeep cost then you can claim them as dependent parents which will allow you to file as a head of household and give you their exemptions.  Note that you should be able to prove what your total home upkeep costs are so that you have something to show if the IRS asks a question.



If you have any other questions I'll be glad to help.



Senior Tax Advisor (Tampa, FL)

Associate (Neighbor)
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎03-22-2016

Re: Head of Household

Hi fknross:


The reply from LoiusH was comprehensive and very good.


It occurs to me that you don't claim your parents as a couple.  You have to claim them as individuals, i.e. as 2 separate dependents.  It's possible that their dependency tests show that you can take only one of them as a dependent.  This may happen if one parent's separate income is much more than the other parent's.


However, that will still qualify you for the Head of Household filing status - it only takes one dependent parent.


One potential complication is to make sure that your parent's don't file a joint return, or only file jointly to get all their withholding back AND they would have no tax liability if they filed separately.


Hope this is helpful.


Simon Tung

(Tax Preparer)