Just wanted to know what would happen if my biological father filed taxes with himself as the head of household and me as a dependent and I file the taxes as the head of household with no dependents. I'm 22, unmarried, not living in the same state or have the same permanent address, earning more than him and have been providing for myself.

  • 1
    You say you currently live separately. Did you live with him during (some, most, or all of) the tax year in question? Is that why he would list you as a dependent?
    – yoozer8
    Feb 22 '19 at 17:43
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    Well, you can't file as head of household if you have no dependent. You would file as single.
    – mkennedy
    Feb 22 '19 at 17:55
  • 2
    What would happen: If you were caught and audited, you would be guilty of tax evasion. The result would likely be owing back taxes, penalties, and interest. Unless, of course, you are a member of congress.
    – Pete B.
    Feb 22 '19 at 18:09
  • Is your question whether this is allowed, or whether you would be caught? The answer to the latter is that you would be caught; the social security numbers for dependents have to be listed on the return, precisely so the IRS can cross-check.
    – prl
    Feb 23 '19 at 3:41

If you provided for yourself and made enough money, you do not qualify as a dependent. That's an important first point.

If your father files taxes and claims you as a dependent, that's an invalid filing and tax fraud.

If you have no dependents, you can't file as head of household (that would also be fraud).

If you claim yourself as single and not a dependent, and your father claims you as a dependent, both of your returns should be flagged as invalid - though, depending on the ordering and timing of the filing, one may go through and later require amendment (or be considered fraud and possibly warrant an audit).


To file as head of household, you must have at least one "qualifying person" as part of your household. In general, that person must have lived with you for "more than half the year". (With some exceptions, like if the person was away for military service or college.) As it appears that you do not live with your father, then you are not a qualifying person to enable him to claim head of household status.

If you have no dependents, you probably don't meet the rules to be a head of household either. The qualifying person doesn't necessarily have to be a dependent, there are a few other cases, but they must have lived with you for more than half the year, and you have to be paying over half the cost to maintain the home.

See IRS 1040 instructions, page 16. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040gi.pdf

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