How to count income & household members

Who to include in your household

For the Health Insurance Marketplace, a household usually includes the tax filer, their spouse if they have one, and their tax dependents.

Tax filer + spouse + tax dependents = household

Follow these basic rules when including members of your household:

  • Include your spouse if you’re legally married.
  • If you plan to claim someone as a tax dependent for 2016, do include them on your application.
  • If you won’t claim them as a tax dependent, don’t include them.
  • Include your spouse and tax dependents even if they don’t need health coverage.

See the limited exceptions to these basic rules in the chart below.

Learn more about who you can claim as a tax dependent from the IRS.

Who to include in your household
Relationship Include in household? Notes

Dependent children, including adopted and foster children

Yes

Include any child you’ll claim as a tax dependent, regardless of age.

Children, shared custody

Sometimes

Include children whose custody you share only during years you claim them as tax dependents.

Non-dependent child under 26

Sometimes

Include them only if you want to cover them on your Marketplace plan.

Children under 21 you take care of

Yes

Include any child under 21 you take care of and who lives with you, even if not your tax dependent.

Unborn children

No

Don’t include a baby until it’s born. You have up to 60 days after the birth to enroll your baby.

Dependent parents

Yes

Include parents only if you’ll claim them as tax dependents.

Dependent siblings and other relatives

Yes

Include them only if you’ll claim them as tax dependents.

Spouse

Yes

Include your legally married spouse, whether opposite sex or same sex. In most cases, married couples must file taxes jointly to qualify for savings.

Legally separated spouse

No

Don’t include a legally separated spouse, even if you live together.

Divorced spouse

No

Don't include a former spouse, even if you live together.

Spouse, living apart

Yes

Include your spouse unless you’re legally separated or divorced. (See next row for an important exception.)

Spouse, if you’re a victim of domestic abuse, domestic violence, or spousal abandonment

Not required

In these cases, you don’t have to include your spouse. See rules for victims of domestic abuse, domestic violence, or spousal abandonment.

Unmarried domestic partner

Sometimes

Include an unmarried domestic partner only if you have a child together or you’ll claim your partner as a tax dependent.

Roommate

No

Don’t include people you just live with — unless they’re a spouse, tax dependent, or covered by another exception in this chart.

More answers: Who to include in your household

What if I’m single without dependents?
  • If you aren’t claimed as a tax dependent by someone else and have no tax dependents yourself: Count only yourself in your household.
  • If you are claimed as a tax dependent by someone else: You’re counted as part of their household, not your own.
How do I know which dependents’ income to include on my application?

You must include the income of any dependent required to file a federal income tax return for the year you want coverage.

Single dependents under 65 are required to file if any of the following applies:

  • They expect earned income over $6,300.

    • Includes salaries, wages, tips, and taxable scholarships and fellowships
  • They expect unearned income over $1,050.

    • Includes interest or dividends from investments, distributions from trusts, unemployment compensation, and taxable Social Security benefits
  • They expect net self-employment income over $400.

    • Self-employment income is income from a business you run yourself. Net self-employment income, sometimes known as “profit,” is income greater than your business deductions.

Different filing requirements apply to dependents who have earned and unearned income that together total more than certain amounts. If a dependent has both earned and unearned income, consult the IRS document below.

There are different filing requirements for dependents who are married, over 65, or blind.

Note: If a dependent isn’t required to file a tax return but does anyway — like to get a refund — you don’t have to count their income on your Marketplace application.

See official IRS rules on filing requirements, including amounts for dependents who are married, over 65, or blind, definitions of earned and unearned income, and important details.

(Figures above are for 2015, the most recent year available.)

Do my spouse and I have to file taxes jointly to get Marketplace savings?

Yes, with certain exceptions.

  • If you’re married and will file a joint federal tax return for the year you want coverage: You’re eligible for a premium tax credit and other savings if you qualify based on your income and other factors.
  • If you’re married and will file separately for the year you want coverage: You can enroll in a Marketplace plan together but you’re not eligible for a premium tax credit or other savings, and you may have to complete a separate application.
  • If you’re married and plan to file as head of household for the year you want coverage: You can say you’re "unmarried" on your Marketplace application. You’re then eligible for a premium tax credit and other savings if you qualify based on your income and other factors. See IRS rules for filing as head of household.
  • See the next question for an exception for victims of domestic abuse and spousal abandonment.
Do I have to file federal taxes and apply for insurance with my spouse if I’m a victim of domestic abuse, domestic violence, or spousal abandonment?

No, you don’t have to file jointly — and you can still qualify for a premium tax credit and other savings.

If you’re living apart from your spouse and are a victim of domestic abuse, domestic violence, or spousal abandonment and want to enroll in your own health plan separate from you abuser or abandoner, you can say you’re “unmarried” on your Marketplace application without fear of penalty for mis-stating your marital status.

This will let you (and possibly your dependents) qualify for premium tax credits and other savings based on your income.

Why do I need to include people in my household who don’t need insurance?

Marketplace savings are based on expected income for all household members, not just the ones who need insurance.

If anyone in your household has coverage through a job-based plan, a plan they bought themselves, a public program like Medicaid, CHIP, or Medicare, or another source, include them and their expected income on your application.

When you apply you can state which household members need coverage.

What if I’m a dependent on someone else’s tax return and want to get Marketplace insurance myself?

You won’t qualify for a premium tax credit and other savings based on your income. You can buy a Marketplace plan but would have to pay full price.