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I am a single mom, my son turned 24 last year, full time college student, work part time made about 8k last year, renting an apartment with his friend. I am paying for his full tuition and most of the living expenses, can I file as the head of household?

Based on the information you provided, it would appear that you can file as head of household. However, I would encourage you to go through this interactive filing status assistant from the IRS to confirm: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/what-is-my-filing-status I would also encourage you to use this assistant on who you can claim as a dependent, to be sure that he really is your dependent: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/whom-may-i-claim-as-a-dependent...

I would also point out that you should be able to document all support provided, if needed.

If I can claim him as dependent, does he need to file his own income tax return?

Probably not, based on the basic information you provided. But, since he had income, if income taxes were withheld from his pay, then he probably would want to file a tax return in order to claim the refund. Here is an assistant that can help him determine if he needs to file or not: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/do-i-need-to-file-a-tax-return

AJ
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I am a single mom, my son turned 24 last year, full time college student, work part time made about 8k last year, renting an apartment with his friend. I am paying for his full tuition and most of the living expenses, can I file as the head of household?

Based on the information you provided, it would appear that you can file as head of household. However, I would encourage you to go through this interactive filing status assistant from the IRS to confirm: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/what-is-my-filing-status I would also encourage you to use this assistant on who you can claim as a dependent, to be sure that he really is your dependent: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/whom-may-i-claim-as-a-dependent...

I would also point out that you should be able to document all support provided, if needed.

If I can claim him as dependent, does he need to file his own income tax return?

Probably not, based on the basic information you provided. But, since he had income, if income taxes were withheld from his pay, then he probably would want to file a tax return in order to claim the refund. Here is an assistant that can help him determine if he needs to file or not: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/do-i-need-to-file-a-tax-return

AJ
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... my son turned 24 last year, full time college student, work part time made about 8k last year ... If I can claim him as dependent, does he need to file his own income tax return?

I agree with aj for the Federal return. At that level of earned income a return is not required since it is less than the standard deduction. But your state might have it's own filing requirements that kick in at a different level.

For example, in California his standard deduction would be about $4000 and he would not get his personal exemption if you could claim him as a dependent. He would have a bit of a CA tax liability and a return would be required.

--Peter

PS - If the $8k were from unearned income (interest, dividends) his Federal standard deduction would be much smaller and a return would be required. So it's not just the amount of income, but also the type of income that affects filing requirements.
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I am a single mom, my son turned 24 last year, full time college student, work part time made about 8k last year, renting an apartment with his friend. I am paying for his full tuition and most of the living expenses, can I file as the head of household? If I can claim him as dependent, does he need to file his own income tax return?

I have to disagree with AJ and Peter here.

If your son turned 24 before the end of 2018, full time student status no longer matters. He is not your qualifying child unless he is disabled, which does not sound like the case here.

Since it is stated that he made about 8k from part time work, he has too much income to be claimed as your dependent.

Since you cannot claim him as a dependent, he is not a qualifying person for Head of Household filing status. You cannot claim Head of Household status unless there is someone else who qualifies you for that status.

Because your son is not your dependent, he would not be required to file a federal return for income under $12K. However, if there was any federal tax withheld from his pay at the part time job, he will want to file in order to get his withholding back as a refund. As others note, if your state has an income tax there may be a lower level of income requiring a state tax return to be filed.

It should also be noted that because your son is no longer your dependent, any applicable education benefits you might have been claiming for him in the past go on his return for 2018.
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agree with Patzer but for a different reason...

Son is not a qualifying person for HoH filing status due to the fact that he didn't live with you for more than half the year.

Whether or not he is a dependent is a different set of criteria.
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...can I file as the head of household?

Based on the info you've given, probably not, at least not for 2018.

There are several moving parts here.

He will not qualify as a dependent child for reasons given by the previous post.

He could qualify as a 'Qualifying Relative' (QR), but a number of provisions must be met:

1. He must be your family relative if he did not live with you the entire year where time at school is considered, I believe, a temporary absence and counts as living with you.
2. You must provide at least 1/2 of his support. You'll need to sit down with a calculator, but if you're paying his tuition + fees, depending on what he's spending on rent, utilities and food and the cost of tuition, I'd guess you are paying >50%
3. His gross income, including any muni bond interest, must be less than the exemption amount. This is where you'll likely get stuck, as the personal exemption for 2018 is $4,140 and he earned about 8K in 2018. But in 2019 if his reportable income + any muni bond interest were to fall under the 2019 personal exemption (note the personal exemption is no longer used on the tax return but is used for this determination), he could qualify as a QR, if the remaining provisions are met
4. No one may claim you or your spouse as dedpendents
5. Son is not married filing jointly and filed a tax return with any tax due
6. Live with you for more than half the year, except for temporary absences. Here, I believe the school is considered a temporary absence and would count as living with you.

If these provisions are met, then he would be your QR for purposes of
a. Filing Head of Household
b. Dependency exemption (no longer applies after 2017 but may resume in 2026)
c. Education Credits
d. Medical Expense Deduction

My source for this is the AARP decision tree for determining Qualifying Child and Qualifying Relative.

does he have to file his own income tax return?

As mentioned, not as long as his Adjusted Gross Income is less than the standard deduction, which will be $12,200 for 2019, or unless he qualifies for a refundable credit or there have been withholdings that he will need to file to get refunded.

BruceM
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as the personal exemption for 2018 is $4,140


Where did this come from? The exemption was eliminated with the new tax law.
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Where did this come from? The exemption was eliminated with the new tax law.

Read carefully.
Re-read #3

BruceM
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I looked at the IRS pub, and it indicates the qualifying dependent must have income less than $4150 but makes no mention of exemption. I know there are some other where the regs haven't caught up with the law, but saying income must be less than the exemption amount when there is no exemption could easily send an incorrect message.
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Nope, its correct as written

BruceM
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