Can I File Head of Household Without a W-2?

Usually, if you're not married you have to file your tax return as single. However, if you meet certain conditions, you might be able to file as head of household. Even if you don't have a W-2, you might still be able to take advantage of the higher standard deduction and other tax breaks associated with filing as head of household.

Head of Household Requirements

To file as head of household on your taxes, you must be unmarried -- or "considered unmarried" -- at the end of the year, have paid at least half of the costs of running your household and have had a qualifying person live with you for at least six months of the year. To be considered unmarried, you must not have lived with your spouse for the last six months of the year and you cannot file a joint return.

W-2 Significance

Just because you doesn't have a W-2 doesn't mean you didn't pay at least half the costs of keeping up your household. For example, you might have income as an independent contractor reported on a 1099-MISC or investment income reported on a 1099-DIV or 1099-INT. Or, you might have used money you've saved up from years past to cover the costs, in which case you won't have any income statements. As long as you're paying at least half of your household's expenses -- public assistance programs don't count as costs you paid -- you meet the requirement.

Costs of a Home

When figuring the total costs of keeping up your home, include all the costs of renting or owning. For example, if you own the home and have a mortgage, include the mortgage payments, real estate taxes, home insurance, utilities and home repairs. In addition, don't forget about food eaten in the home. But, don't include such costs as money you spent on vacation, education, medical care or transportation.

Qualifying People

A qualifying person includes anyone that you claim an exemption for on your taxes, either as a qualifying child or qualifying relative who lives with you for the at least half the year. It also includes any person who is single that you could claim as a qualifying child, whether or not you actually claim the exemption. If you're using your parent as your qualifying relative, there's a special exception to the rule: he or she doesn't have to live with you during the year to count.

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About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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