Happy Father's Day 2011
Garage sale -- and tax, permit -- time

Happy Father's Day to 1.8 million single dads & their head of household tax status

On this Father's Day, here's a special shout out to the dads who are raising their families on their own.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2010 there were 1,762,000 men across the country who were raising kids solo. So on this day when we celebrate fatherhood, those dads represent this week's By the Numbers figure:

1 point 8 million single dads
Of the almost 1.8 million single dads, almost 46 percent are raising their kids alone because of divorce. Almost 30 percent were never married, almost 18 percent were separated and 6 percent were widowed.

Most of these dads will file their returns as head of household.

The head of household filing status offers unmarried taxpayers with dependent children a larger standard deduction amount than that of single filers or married filing separately spouses. The income tax rates are more favorable, too. And we can't forget all the child-related tax breaks that can be claimed.

The key to using the head of household status in most cases is that the individual provide more than half the cost of keeping up a home for himself and his dependent family members. Those dependents also must have lived in the home for more than six months.

A single dad who is a widower has other tax filing options.

U.S. tax law allows a person whose wife or husband has died to file a joint return for the tax year in which the spouse passed away. So for that tax year, the same benefits allowed a married couple can be claimed.

Then for the next two years, the widower might be able to file as a qualifying widower with a dependent child.

As the filing status name indicates, the taxpayers must remain unmarried and must care for, by providing more than half the cost of keeping up your home, a dependent child or children who lived with you for the full tax year.

After two years, if you're still unmarried and raising kids, you'll file as a head of household.

So if you're a single parent, be sure you choose the proper filing status when you complete your tax return. It could make a big difference as to what you owe -- or get back from -- the IRS.

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