By: Revanche

A Gift From the IRS: A Head of Household Audit Questionnaire

August 27, 2006

Disclaimer: Last year was the first time I’d qualified for and filed as head of household status on my tax returns.

Prologue

The players:
Protagonist. MsMiniducky
Antagonist. Faceless Tax Franchise Board

The scene: Imagine my utter horrified dismay to see an envelope from the Tax Franchise Board!! Now, I’ve seen them before. And the last time, I ended up writing a check for $800 to cover a horrendously expensive, boneheaded mistake made by none other than BroDucky! He did have to pay me back for that, of course, but we all know how much I hate paying for his mistakes while he has all the time in the world to repay me. AND wasting one of my checks? Tsk, all around.

My first thought was oh Lordy, what [did he do] now? Then I realized it was actually addressed to ME! I frantically tore open the envelope and just sat down when I saw that it was a Head of Household Audit Letter.

Act 1

While gathering my paperwork to file my tax return, I DID do my homework and go over the numbers very carefully before deciding to tell my parents that we were going to do our taxes a little differently this year. What I didn’t know, and didn’t find while researching this particular tax status, was that HOH filings are very closely scrutinized by the IRS because there are about a dozen very specific rules you must answer to determine true qualification and many people file when they don’t actually qualify.

In reading over the enclosed table of qualifications, I see that I still DO qualify, but I’m not sure that I understand what I need to submit as “proof.” Perhaps the W-2 forms would suffice? However, since I didn’t think ahead last year, I didn’t think to make sure that the rent payments were made from my checking account instead of simply giving Ma/Pa Duckies the money to cover the rent. I’m not sure what properly constitutes sufficient proof!

Item Number 11 on the FAQs is vaguely reassuring, though:

11. Q. Can I provide the head of household information when I file my tax return?

A. Yes. If you e-file your tax return and use the head of household filing status, you can provide the head of household information with your tax return by submitting the completed Schedule HOH/FTB 4803e at the time your return is filed. The Schedule HOH FTB/4803e will allow us to determine if you qualify for the filing status without later having to issue you an audit letter.

So I get the impression that if I can honestly answer the questions correctly, this may not actually lead to a real audit. Or maybe that providing the W-2 is all the proof I need. I don’t know, I’m just nervous about not being able to provide what the IRS would consider sufficient evidence of my supporting the household, despite making 80% of the total household income.

The last page of the rather imposing packet states that “At the end of this process, we will tell you in writing that:

We are accepting this return as you filed it, or
You have additional tax due, or
You have overpaid your tax and are entitled to a refund, or
We have not changed your tax amount, but you may be entitled to a refund if you correctly recomputed your tax and file a claim for refund before the end of the statue of limitations expires.

to be continued . . .

2 Responses to “A Gift From the IRS: A Head of Household Audit Questionnaire”

  1. Daniel says:

    A lot of these go out to first time head of household filers. My sister got one last year the first time she filed. I’m not sure of your details, but if you followed the rules, this letter is not a big deal at all. 🙂 Good luck.

  2. After I actually read the darn thing a couple of times, I realized that it probably wasn’t going to be a big deal. I hope that the W-2 is going to be sufficient “proof” is all.
    I’m fairly confident that I qualify because I definitely paid for more than half of everything last year, and I’m not married. We’ll see!

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