Your Life

Your Life

Major life milestones often have a major tax impact. Changes in your marital status, having a baby or adopting a child can have significant impact on your taxes. This is the place to ask questions about dependents, real estate, and other various scenarios that play a significant role in what taxes you pay.

Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-23-2017

Just married filling head of household

My husband and I just got married on a whim in late nov. 2017. We did not move in together till moving to another state in jan. 2018. Us both having separate houses in two different states and no shared children or income can I file head of household as usual? The online filing program through h&r block keeps telling me to but the first year tax professional at the office says no.
Esteemed Neighbor
Posts: 222
Registered: ‎02-28-2016

Re: Just married filling head of household

You must file either married separately or married jointly.


To file as head of household, you must:

Pay for more than half of the household expenses
Be considered unmarried for the tax year, and
You must have a qualifying child or dependent.

You are not "considered unmarried" because, while married, you only lived apart two months of 2017 (requires 6 months) AND since you and your spouse lived in separate homes due to a "temporary circumstance", such as military service, business trips, a stay in a medical treatment facility, or attendance at college, the IRS still considers you married for that tax year.


Associate (Pioneer)
Posts: 38
Registered: ‎02-22-2017

Re: Just married filling head of household

Hello Ellisan


A married individual can be considered unmarried and file as Head of Household if all of the following apply.


1)  The taxpayer lived apart from his/her spouse for the last 6 months of the year.  Temporary absences for special circumstances such as medical care, military service, school or business, count as time lived in the home.


2)  The taxpayer does not file a joint return with his/her spouse.


3)  The taxpayer paid over half the cost of maintaining the home during the year.


4)  the taxpayer's home was the main home of the taxpayer's child, stepchild or foster child for more than half the year.


5)  the taxpayer claims this child as a dependent, or the child's other parent claims the child as a dependent under the rules for children of divorced or separated parents.


From what you have stated in your question, all of these conditions were met (your husband lived elsewhere for far more than just business reasons). However as you were legally married on the last day of the year your husband would then need to file Married Filing Separately, unless he also has dependent children and then can also file as Head of Household. It may be better for you to file Married Filing Jointly with your husband as this is usually the most advantageous way to file. I would suggest you try both ways to see which gives the best results in your case.


Hope this helps.


Roger H,

Tax Specialist, Canton, Ohio
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-23-2017

Re: Just married filling head of household

Thank you that was what I needed to know. Yes we had never at any point even lived in the same state till 2018. Not due to any business matter just he lived in tennesse and I lived in Georgia. We got married but couldnt pick up and move that quickly after the wedding so After the first of the year we both moved to S.C. I dont understand where the two months thing is coming from. Not at any point in 2017 did we share a home. I have dependants and supported all my household on ny own in 2017.
Posts: 74
Registered: ‎09-16-2014

Re: Just married filling head of household

Hi Ellisan!


Welcome to the community!


The tax professional was likely getting to that if you married someone during the year, it is possible you shared a household even though all your stuff is kept somewhere else. Think of the situation where one spouse travels for work (or was sick in the hospital, or away at school, etc) so is away the last 6 months of the year and lives somewhere else, but intends to come back and share a household when in town.


This is heavily a facts and circumstances determination specific to each situation, and the IRS could possibly audit, so to be prudent, they advised against filing as head of household. But if you can back up the fact that the other spouse did not share a household with you (not just the fact that the two homes were kept up separately, but no sharing of households at all in the couple months in 2017 when you were married- even for one day- and just not temporarily away from each other due to convenience, like finishing out the children's school or putting a home on the market for sale, etc), then head of household is allowed. The IRS is looking into filers who do not properly claim MFS or MFJ that should be, and has added due diligence questions to the future tax returns forms for tax professionals whose clients file head of household, so this is a known area that the IRS is watching.


Congrats on your recent nuptials and Happy Valentine's Day to you both!