Can two people from the same address file as “head of household” if their qualifying dependents are different?

by Amy M. Swartzfager, CPA | Feb 27, 2018

Can two people from the same address file as "head of household" if their qualifying dependents are different? My father filed as married jointly, with my mom as the only exemption. Since we all live at the same address, should I file as single status claiming my sibling as the exemption, or should I file as head of household status claiming my sibling as the exemption?

The first item that needs to be addressed is to determine who should legally claim the exemption for the sibling. This typically would go to the parents first, especially because the child is living with them. However, it could be argued that the sibling could be claimed as your dependent if you provided over half of the sibling’s support and your adjusted gross income (AGI) was higher than the highest AGI of either parent.

With regard to the head of household status, you would have had to pay more than half of all of the costs to maintain the home to claim head of household status. The sibling would have also had to have lived there for more than half of the year.

For more resources, check out PICPA’s Money & Life Tips, Ask a CPA, or CPA Locator.

Answered by: Amy M. Swartzfager, CPA, is a senior tax analyst with API Technologies Corporation in Fairview, Pa. 

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
Financial FAQs

Search the most frequently asked finance and accounting questions and read the responses from PICPA members. Always consult a CPA before taking action.