Head of Household

views updated Jun 11 2018


An individual in one family setting who provides actual support and maintenance to one or more individuals who are related to him or her throughadoption, blood, or marriage.

The designation head of household, also termed head of family, is applied to one whose authority to exercise family control and to support the dependent members is founded upon a moral or legal obligation or duty.

Head of household is also a filing status for federal income taxpayers. There are five basic categories of tax statuses: (1) single persons; (2) heads of households; (3) married taxpayers filing joint returns; (4) married taxpayers filing separate returns; and (5) surviving spouses. Each of these persons pays at different rates. The tax rates for single persons are ordinarily higher than rates for heads of household, while rates for a husband and wife filing a joint return are lower.

In order for an individual to qualify as head of household for income tax purposes, the person need not be unmarried all year as long as the person is unmarried on the final day of the tax year. In addition, the person must support and maintain a household to the extent that his or her monetary contribution exceeds one-half of the total cost of maintenance. The person's home must be the main place of residence of one relative, with the exception of a mother and father, for the whole year. Relatives include children, grandchildren, stepchildren, brothers and sisters, half brothers or half sisters, and stepbrothers and stepsisters. The individual's parents need not reside in the same home as the taxpayer for him or her to claim this status, provided the person meets the support requirements specified.

Homestead exemption statutes, which have been passed in a majority of jurisdictions, permit a head of household to designate a house and land as a homestead and exempt it from execution for general debts in the event of bankruptcy. In addition, some states make available property tax exemptions for homestead property. Such statutes often require the formal recording of a declaration of homestead.

head of household

views updated May 23 2018

head of household This term conventionally refers to the senior male in any household, in the role of husband and (perhaps) father, but in his absence is usually ascribed to the principal earner. The practice of taking the adult male of a household as the ‘head’ has been much criticized—at least in most industrialized countries—for its implicit assumption of male primacy. For example, the literature on social class is characterized by a long-standing controversy about the appropriate unit of analysis, a debate which turns on the acceptability or otherwise of classifying a whole household, in class terms, according to the class standing of its (usually male) head of household.

household, head of

views updated Jun 11 2018

household, head of See HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD.