Q: My accountant told me something I found unbelievable, and I felt I had to get a second opinion. I have been spending a substantial amount of money in recent years to support my uncle, who lived in an assisted-living facility until he died in early 2013.
I claimed him as a dependent through the years that I've been aiding him, and he's been in the nursing home. But I also filed my taxes under "single" filing status. This year, my accountant claimed that the IRS rules had changed, and that I could file as "head of household" because of my support of my uncle, even though he never lived with me.
This would save me a lot of money. But I can't believe it's legal.
Thanks much for any help you could provide.
A: In order to qualify for head of household filing status, you must meet the following requirements:
o Be unmarried at the end of the year
o Not be a surviving spouse
o Not be a nonresident alien at any time during the year, and
o Maintain a household:
- that is your home, and for more than half of the tax year, the principal place of abode of:
-- your qualifying child, or
-- an individual for whom you may claim a dependency exemption, or
- (not necessarily you own) that for the tax year is the principal place of abode for either your father or mother, if you are entitled to a dependency deduction for that parent.
Since your uncle did not live with you and is not your father or mother, you do not appear to be entitled to use the head of household filing status. I am not aware of any recent "IRS rules changes" to the head of household provisions. The Internal Revenue Code section that provides for head of household filing status specifically mentions "father or mother" as the only exception to the rule that the person who qualifies you as head of household must live with you.