difference between single and head of household

Understanding the difference between filing as single and head of household

For taxpayers, it’s important to understand the difference between filing as a single person and filing as head of household when submitting their tax return. Even though both options are available for single people, the key difference comes down to the complexity of the tax return and the available credits and deductions.

Filing as a Single Person

If you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse as of the end of the year, you may file taxes as a single person. In this case, you will be taxed on all of your income at the individual tax rates set by the IRS.

When filing as a single person, you won’t be able to claim any credits or deductions that are available to individuals who file as head of household. However, if you have children, you may be able to claim the child tax credit or the earned income tax credit, which can help reduce your tax liability.

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Filing as Head of Household

If you are single and have dependents, you may be eligible to file as head of household. To qualify, you must have paid more than 50% of the costs of maintaining your household and have a qualifying dependent, such as a child or elderly parent.

Filing as head of household comes with several benefits. You’ll be taxed at lower tax rates than those who file as single, meaning you get to keep more of your income. Additionally, you could also qualify for a higher standard deduction, depending on the number of dependents you have.

As a head of household, you may also be eligible for several tax credits and deductions that are not available to single filers, such as the child and dependent care credit, the child tax credit, and the earned income tax credit. These credits can help you reduce your tax bill and potentially increase your refund.

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between filing as a single person and filing as head of household can make a big difference in the amount of taxes you owe. While filing as a single person is usually simpler, filing as head of household can come with several benefits, including lower tax rates and larger deductions, as well as eligibility for various tax credits and deductions. As such, it’s important to evaluate your options carefully to make the best decision for your situation.

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Table difference between single and head of household

Category Single Head of Household
Definition An unmarried person who does not qualify as a dependent An unmarried person who supports at least one qualifying dependent
Filing status Single Head of Household
Standard deduction $12,550 for tax year 2021 $18,800 for tax year 2021
Tax rates 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, 37% 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, 37%
Qualifying dependents Cannot claim any dependents Must support at least one qualifying dependent, such as a child or relative
Eligibility for certain tax credits May be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) May be eligible for the EITC and the Child and Dependent Care Credit (if applicable)