U.S. citizens and residents abroad - head of household


If you are a U.S. citizen married to an individual who is neither a citizen nor a resident of the United States within the meaning of Internal Revenue Code section 7701(b)(4), also referred to as a “nonresident”, 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 at any time during the year and you do not choose to treat your nonresident spouse as a resident. 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.

It may be advantageous to choose to treat your nonresident spouse as a U.S. resident and file a joint income tax return. Once you make the choice you must include the worldwide income of both you and your spouse on your joint income tax return (but you and your spouse can file joint or separate returns in later years).

Although your nonresident 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 whom you can claim as a dependent (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 the child as a dependent)
    • Your married child, grandchild, stepchild, or adopted child whom you can claim as a dependent, or whom you could claim as a dependent except that you signed a statement allowing the noncustodial parent to claim the dependent, or the noncustodial parent provides at least $600 support and claims the child as a dependent under a pre-1985 agreement
    • Any relative listed below whom you can claim as a dependent:
      • parent
      • grandparent or other direct ancestor
      • brother
      • half-brother
      • sister
      • stepbrother
      • stepsister
      • stepmother
      • stepfather
      • father-in-law
      • brother-in-law
      • sister-in-law
      • half-sister
      • son-in-law
      • daughter-in-law
      • mother-in-law
      • eligible foster child or descendant
      • son or daughter or their descendants
    • If related by blood:
      • uncle
      • aunt
      • nephew
      • niece

If you qualify as head of household, you can use the Head of Household column in the Tax Table or the Head of Household Tax Rate Schedule.

References/Related Topics