Filing Status - Head of Household vs MFS/MFJ

It is possible to qualify for the Head of Household filing status if you are married and meet the following qualifications:

  • file a separate return,
  • your spouse was not a member of your household during the last six months of the tax year, and
  • you provided more than half the year's maintenance costs for the home of a qualifying person.

Per IRS Publication 17 Your Federal Income Tax, page 24:

Married Filing Separately

You can choose married filing separately as your filing status if you are married. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be responsible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return.

If you and your spouse don’t agree to file a joint return, you must use this filing status unless you qualify for head of household status, discussed later.

For more information, go to the IRS Choosing the Correct Filing Status webpage or the IRS What is My Filing Status? webpage.

Note that any link in the information above is updated each year automatically and will take you to the most recent version of the webpage or document at the time it is accessed.