Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury
Level Basic Advanced Military International

Unique Filing Status and Exemption Situations Workout

Exemption for Nonresident Alien Spouse

Head of Household

As you learned in a previous lesson, married taxpayers can be considered unmarried and claim Head of Household status if they have not lived with their spouse for the last six months of the year, and if they meet a few other requirements.

There is an exception that allows taxpayers who have a nonresident alien spouse to file as Head of Household. All of the following requirements must be met:

  • The taxpayer is a U.S. citizen or resident alien for the entire year.
  • The nonresident alien spouse chooses not to file a joint return.
  • The taxpayer meets the other requirements for this filing status.
  • The spouse is not a qualifying person for head of household purposes. The taxpayer must have a qualifying person in order to be eligible for this filing status.

Follow the interview tips in the Filing Status section of the Volunteer Resource Guide to see if the citizen spouse qualifies to file as Head of Household.


Go to the Volunteer Resource Guide, Filing Status—Decision Tree. If a spouse is a nonresident alien, the living apart rule does not apply to the taxpayer. You will also find this information in Publication 17, under Head of Household, Nonresident alien.

Interview Tips: Filing Status

Interview Tips: Filing Status