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7 Tax Tips for Single Moms | Financial Wellness


Single moms are like superheroes–stretching their limits to keep their families afloat and their homes well-kept. To make things easier, here are seven tax tips for single moms that could make filing a bit less complicated. Maybe you can also save bucks in the process. That should be some padding for your family budget as inflation rises in this unprecedented economy.

Tax Season: Tax Tips for Single Moms

For single moms, tax season can only mean one thing: more work. Not only do you have to juggle your personal responsibilities and holding down a job, but you also have to crunch numbers, sort through mountains of paperwork, and complete your return before the deadline.

Thankfully, there are tax breaks that help with the burden of single parenthood, but that also requires knowledge of the U.S. tax code. Let’s be honest: Who has the time to check IRS rules when you’re too busy raising a family, especially if you have young kids?

We’ve created a guide that answers some of the most common tax questions for single moms, plus tax tips that could make your life a bit easier.

~ Tax season is the time to crunch numbers. ~

File as head of household

One common mistake that many single parents make is choosing single as their filing status. One easy way to save money is to file as head of household.

Filing as a head of household has many tax benefits, including the ability to claim a larger standard deduction ($18,800 for the tax year 2021). You will also have a lower tax rate and pay less in tax.

To qualify for head of household status, you must:

  • Pay more than half the cost of maintaining a household
  • Be unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year
  • Have your dependents live with you for more than half the year, not including the time spent at school

For single parents in a custody arrangement, the party with more than 50% custody gets to file as head of household. The other party in the custody arrangement cannot use the same filing status.

Claim the child tax credit

If you file as single or as a head of household and make less than $200,000 a year, you may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit. To be eligible for this benefit program, the child you are claiming the credit for must be under the age of 17 on the last day of the tax year. The child must also be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a U.S. resident alien.

The Child Tax Credit allows you to reduce your federal taxes by $2,000 per qualifying child. Siblings, foster children, legally adopted children, and grandchildren are eligible for the benefit program. If the credit exceeds your total tax bill, you may be able to claim the excess amount as a refund.

  • Update: The 2021 American Rescue Plan increased the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 for children under 6. This benefit expansion is temporary and only applies to tax year 2021.

Deduct childcare expenses

If you pay someone to care for your children or dependents in order for you to work or look for work, you may be eligible to claim a percentage of your expenses. 

Under the Child and Dependent Care Credit program (not to be confused with the Child Tax Credit), a single mom may include up to $3,000 in expenses for one dependent and $6,000 for two or more dependents. The expenses must be for children 12 years old or younger or dependents who are not physically or mentally capable of self-care.

Know child support tax rules

If you receive child support, you should not report the payments as income. The IRS has rules that child support is not taxable income. The parent paying child support cannot deduct the payments as well.

Claim college tuition costs

Single parents who are paying for their child’s college education may be able to claim a portion of the expenses as a tax credit.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit allows you to claim up to $2,500 in expenses incurred during the first four years of college education. The Lifetime Learning Credit allows for a refund of up to $2,000 per tax return.

Apart from the other rules specific to each education credit, you must meet three criteria to claim these benefits:

  • You must be responsible for your child’s higher education expenses
  • Your child must be enrolled at an eligible educational institution
  • Your child must be listed on your tax return as a dependent

Check your EITC eligibility

If you are the primary breadwinner of your family, you may qualify for the EITC or Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is a tax break for low-income working parents. The credit is refundable, which may result in a helpful tax refund.

The credit you will receive is based on your earned income and the number of children. For instance, a single parent with 1 child who made less than $42,158 is eligible for a refundable credit of up to $3,618.

Get help with your single mom taxes

Filing a tax return as a single mom can be stressful, especially if you are not sure which tax breaks and benefits you qualify for. If you want to make the most of your tax return, it helps to talk to a tax expert.

You can trust the experts TFX to give you the advice you need. Their experienced team can help you determine which tax benefits you qualify for and save you thousands of dollars.

About the Author

This article was written by Veronica Rhodes of TFX. TFX is a women-owned tax firm that offers all U.S. tax services — for both American citizens and non-citizens with U.S. tax filing requirements. From straightforward expat tax preparation to complex cases involving multiple factors — they have handled it all for over 25 years.


3 thoughts on “7 Tax Tips for Single Moms | Financial Wellness

  1. My Ate need this tip. Matagal na syang single maybe 14 years. With one son. And wala na syang plan n mag ASAWA ulit. Ill definitely share this to my sistah!

  2. Magandang topic po talaga to samga single parent. Single Mom and single dad. Na kahit seperated na silaa andun parin ang pagiging civil sa isat isa para sa kanilang Anak. At mga benefits and sustento.

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