No, I don't pay all that myself
August 28, 2005 10:23 PM   Subscribe

How do I declare my household income when I have roommates?

Many forms ask for number of people in household, household income, and monthly rent or mortgage amount. I live in a college town and shared housing is the norm.
I am single in the family-kid sense, as are my 3 roomates.
We are puzzled on how to answer these questions.
posted by tcy to Law & Government (7 answers total)
I'm in the same spot as you. When I called Bank of America in applying for a credit card, they said use my income plus my parents.

YMMV. Try calling the form issuer.
posted by rfordh at 11:50 PM on August 28, 2005

I've always assumed those forms are fishing for a denomintor: total (income|expenses) divided by some number of people. So if you're pooling incomes and splitting expenses, you're a household together. If you're supporting yourselves individually, then each of you is reports as an individual household.

Financial interdependence plus shared address = household.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:54 PM on August 28, 2005

If I remember rightly:

If you were applying for a loan, the household income is your income alone because you and your roommates are separate household units under IRS definitions.
The monthly rent would be your portion of the total rent, just as it would be if you all individually rented rooms.

If you were answering the census, then your household unit would be the house you live in, with the household being all of the people living in said unit.

So, I suppose it depends on if you are answering a poll or dealing with money as to how you would answer.
posted by madajb at 11:54 PM on August 28, 2005

I'd say it's a no-brainer - just put down the amount of money that you make individually and the share of the rent that you pay. Unless all of you are jointly applying for this loan, then their incomes and rent shares are irrelevent for the purposes of your application.

They only state "household" on those things because in most cases it's a husband and wife applying for the loan and in that case their assets are considered jointly. In your case they don't literally mean the total amount of money made by everyone in the house - that would be ridiculous if you lived in a large house with a dozen other roommates, for example.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:26 AM on August 29, 2005

On the other hand if your spouse was living in the next state or something to go to school you could still consider both of yourselves as constituting a single household.
posted by Mitheral at 9:14 AM on August 29, 2005

It depends, but usually when they ask these questions they want to know about the people you share life expenses with and are going to continue sharing life expense with.

So, for food stamps, they want to know the income of the group of people who are sharing food expenses, same with a lot of other kinds of public assistance. When I filed for state health care, they wanted to know basically if I was on anyone else's insurance, or eligible to be [so family members would have counted, even though they said "household", but not my live-in boyfriend]. For unemployment, it's people who share expenses, so my boyfriend counted, but our live-in landlady did not.

If it's clear cut, like I'm filling out a form for a bank account or something else that is just for me, I fill them out as if my household is just me. If it's something for me and my SO, I fill out info for the two of us. If it's census stuff, I list everyone who lives here. Generally, if I don't know, I try to call and ask, but it's not an uncommon question so there's likely a FAQ about it or someone at the other end of the phone with a definitive answer.
posted by jessamyn at 9:35 AM on August 29, 2005

And if it's on a form for a grocery discount card or the like, they're just being snoopy as far as I'm concerned so I feel free to ignore the question or put something totally bogus like $2 or $5 trillion depending on my mood.
posted by raedyn at 11:14 AM on August 29, 2005

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