IRS Logo
Print - Click this link to Print this page

U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad - Head of Household

If you are a U.S. citizen married to a nonresident alien you may qualify to use the head of household tax rates. You are considered unmarried for head of household purposes if your spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year and you do not choose to treat your nonresident spouse as a resident alien. However, your spouse is not a qualifying person for head of household purposes. You must have another qualifying person and meet the other tests to be eligible to file as a head of household.

Although your nonresident alien spouse cannot qualify you as a head of household, you can qualify if (1) or (2) applies:

  1. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the principal home for the whole year for your mother or father for whom you can claim an exemption (your parent does not have to have lived with you), or
  2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up the home in which you lived and in which one of the following also lived for more than half the year:
    • Your unmarried child, grandchild, stepchild, foster child, or adopted child. A foster child will qualify you for this status only if you can claim an exemption for the child
    • Your married child, grandchild, stepchild, or adopted child for whom you can claim an exemption, or for whom you could claim an exemption except that you signed a statement allowing the noncustodial parent to claim the exemption, or the noncustodial parent provides at least $600 support and claims the exemption under a pre-1985 agreement
    • Any relative listed below for whom you can claim an exemption:
Parent Father-in-law
Grandparent or other direct ancestor Brother-in-law
Brother Sister-in-law
Half-brother Half-sister
Sister Son-in-law
Stepbrother Daughter-in-law
Stepsister Mother-in-law
Stepmother Eligible Foster Child or descendent
Stepfather Son or daughter or their descendents

 

If related by blood:

 

Uncle Aunt
Nephew Niece
   

If your spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year and you do not choose to treat your nonresident spouse as a resident alien, then you are treated as unmarried for head of household purposes. You must have another qualifying relative and meet the other tests to be eligible to file as head of household.

You can use the head of household column in the Tax Table or the head of household Tax Rate Schedule. It may be advantageous to choose to treat your nonresident alien spouse as a U.S. resident and file a joint income tax return. Once you make the choice, however, you must report the worldwide income of both yourself and your spouse.

References/Related Topics

 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 06-Dec-2013