Whether filing taxes or challenging a garnishment judgment, claiming head of household status in Florida provides numerous benefits. In addition to receiving the federal Earned Income Tax credit, Florida residents who claim head of household are exempt from wage garnishment. However, head of household is not an automatically endowed status; you must fulfill certain eligibility requirements to qualify.
In a multiple income family, only one family member may claim head of household, according to the Florida House of Representatives website. Even though you may be the principal wage earner in your home, this doesn't necessarily mean you are the head of household. According to the Florida Bar, residents who provide more than 50 percent of the financial support for qualifying dependents, such as their children or certain relatives, are deemed the head of household. However, Florida doesn't have a formal procedure for granting head of household status. In most instances you must supply proof of your income, assets and expenses to establish eligibility, Florida asset protection attorney, Jonathan Alper says.
Florida, like most states, follows the Internal Revenue Service's definition of qualifying dependents when determining head of household status. A household member must have the same primary address, be under the age of 19 -- or 24 if a full-time student -- at the end of the tax year and provide less half of his own financial support to be a qualifying dependent. Additionally, you may only claim your natural children or adopted children, stepchildren, foster children, siblings, step-siblings or a descendant of any of these other relatives. Your spouse and other relatives usually do not qualify as a dependents, but if they are totally disabled and depend on you for the majority of their financial support, you may be able to include them as a qualifying dependent.
Florida's Title XV Homestead and Exemptions statute prevents creditors from garnishing wages of residents who qualify for head of household status. If you meet the head of household requirements and make less than $750 a week, your net disposable income is exempt from collection. If you meet the head of household requirements and earn more than $750 a week, your net disposable income is subject to garnishment only if you submit a written agreement. When facing wage garnishment, you must file a head of household affidavit with the court to declare head of household status and claim the subsequent exemptions.
When applying for state assistance programs, such as food stamps, the program board will appoint the principal wage earner or the program applicant as the head of household, regardless of who is the primary contributor of financial support for qualifying dependents in the household.