How Does the ACA Define Household?

By on November 12th, 2013

The Short Answer

Your household includes the people that you put on your tax form: you, your spouse, and any children or relatives you financially support.


The Longer Answer

Blended FamiliesIf you live alone and you don’t have any dependents, figuring out who’s in your household is simple: You’re in a household of one. And no, Fluffy and Spot don’t count.

If you have family members, that’s where it can get a little confusing. Generally speaking, you look to your tax return for the answer. If you file jointly with someone or declare someone as a dependent on your returns, then that person is part of your household.

Household doesn’t necessarily describe who lives where

Here’s where it gets tricky: Just because someone lives with you, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re part of your household. And a household member doesn’t necessarily have to live with you. Let’s look at some typical examples:

  • If you live with a partner you’re not married to and don’t claim that person as a dependent on your tax return, don’t count him or her as part of your household.
  • If you claim a child as a dependent but he or she has gone off to college, lives with your ex, or doesn’t live at home for some other reason, then you do count that child as part of your household.
  • If you and your spouse are still married and file tax returns jointly, but live in separate houses, then you and your spouse are part of the same household.
  • If your mother lives with you, files her own tax return, and is not your dependent, then she is not in your household. If she lives on her own but you claim her as a dependent, then she is part of your household.
  • If you declare your 30-year-old autistic son as a dependent on your tax return, he’s part of your household.

What do tax returns have to do with health insurance?

Applying for health insurance tax credits isn’t the same thing as filing your taxes. Using the example of tax returns is just one way to help explain who is in your household. And knowing who’s in your household is key if you want to figure out whether you qualify for health insurance discounts.

Determining the size of your household

When filling out your application, DO include:

  • Yourself
  • Your spouse
  • Children you declare as dependents
  • A partner you’re not married to but claim as a dependent
  • Anyone else you include on your tax return as a dependent, even if they don’t live with you
  • Anyone else under the age of 21 who you take care of and lives with you

DON’T include:

  • A partner you’re not married to who doesn’t need health coverage and is not your dependent
  • Your partner’s children, if they are not your dependents
  • Your parents who live with you but file their own tax return and are not your dependents
  • Other relatives who file their own tax return and are not your dependents

Note: This information should not be construed as tax advice. For a determination of your health insurance tax credit or cost-sharing reduction, please visit Healthcare.gov.

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