taxes

Can live-in employee be head of household?

George SaenzDear Tax Talk,
An individual has a live-in health care worker for which room and board is provided. Does the health care worker have to claim the room and board as income? And can she be considered head of household, for she has a qualifying dependent child?
-- Rick

Dear Rick,
Meals and lodging provided to a home worker for the convenience of the employer are not considered income of the worker. Basically, convenience means that the employee is required to be on duty during their meal and rest period. Typical examples of such workers are hospital workers, restaurant staff, offshore oil workers, flight crew, etc. Similarly, if the worker was invited to a restaurant by her employer, this would not be considered income.

Head of household status would not be affected by her employment as a health care worker. However, she could not use her employer's home as a basis of determining if she maintained a home for her dependent during the year. That is, to be considered head of household, your worker needs to pay more than half the cost of maintaining a home for her dependent child. The home where she works would not be considered a home that she maintains.

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