Common Reasons Why Your Head of Household (HOH) Filing Status May Be Denied
Remember to read the definitions of all of the linked terms.
- FTB 3532 was not fully completed. Incorrect or missing information may result in a denial of your HOH filing status or a request for additional information
Beginning with tax year 2015, we require you to attach FTB 3532 Head of Household Filing Status Schedule, to your tax return when you claim the Head of Household (HOH) filing status. For tax year 2018, we will deny your HOH filing status if you do not attach FTB 3532 to your tax return. You can find more information about the HOH filing status requirements on the Qualification Requirements page.
- The qualifying person you claimed does not have a valid social security number
You must provide a valid social security number for the qualifying person on FTB 3532.
- The qualifying person does not meet the gross income test
Starting with the 2005 tax year, many adult children no longer qualify taxpayers for head of household filing status. An unmarried child who is 19 years of age or older and not a student, and whose gross income is equal to or greater than the federal exemption amount for the year no longer qualifies an unmarried taxpayer for head of household filing status. These adult children exceed the age requirement to be a qualifying child and they earn more income than the gross income test allows, which eliminates them as a qualifying relative.
The gross income issue is the most common denial reason in the head of household audit program.
- The taxpayer lived with his or her spouse during the last six months of the year
If a married taxpayer lives with his or her spouse at any time during the last six months of the year, the taxpayer is not considered unmarried for head of household purposes. Until the taxpayer receives a final decree of divorce or legal separation, the taxpayer is married. Even if the taxpayer files a petition for divorce or legal separation, or lives apart from his or her spouse, neither occurrence holds the same standing as a legal divorce or separation under a final decree.
A married taxpayer who does not meet the requirements to be considered unmarried does not qualify for head of household filing status.
- The qualifying person did not live with the taxpayer for more than half the year
The taxpayer's qualifying person must live with the taxpayer for more than half the year. If the qualifying person did not live with the taxpayer for more than half the year, the taxpayer does not qualify for the head of household filing status. More than half the year is 183 days; in a leap year it is 184 days.
- The qualifying dependent was claimed on another person’s tax return for purposes of claiming the HOH filing status
A child can qualify only one parent for the HOH filing status in a particular tax year, and that parent must meet all the HOH requirements. See the HOH Qualification Requirements.
- A married taxpayer claimed a parent or relative as his or her qualifying person
Some married taxpayers claim a parent or a relative, other than a child, as their qualifying person. By law, taxpayers who are legally married as of the last day of the year can only claim their child as their qualifying person. The child can be a birth child, stepchild, adopted child, or an eligible foster child.
- Taxpayers claimed a nonrelative as a qualifying person
Taxpayers sometimes claim a cousin or the child of a friend as their qualifying person. Neither person can qualify a taxpayer for head of household filing status. The law specifies a finite list of relationships for head of household. The list does not include cousins or unrelated children, except for children who meet the requirements to be an eligible foster child.
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Last Updated: 11.29.2018