In the aftermath of a loved one passing, there are many different legal and financial obligations that must be taken care of. One of them can be very significant—income taxes. Any decedent’s executor needs to file a final tax return for the deceased person, providing that their income passed a set threshold. Even if the return is not required by income amount, in some cases a return should still be filed to receive a refund.

The Rules for Filing Taxes for a Deceased Loved One

A surviving spouse can file a joint tax return for the final year of the deceased spouse’s life. However, if they choose to remarry during the same tax year, they will need to complete a “married filing separately” return for the deceased person. If you have any questions about the nuances of filing your tax return as a widow, we are here to help.

If you are a surviving spouse and have a dependent child, you could be eligible for a tax break for two tax years after your spouse’s passing. To be eligible, you must have been entitled to file a joint return the year of your spouse’s death, not remarried before the end of the current tax year, have a qualifying dependent child and have been responsible for at least 50% of the cost of maintaining the home or principal residence of the child. If you fall into this category you are considered a qualifying widower in the eyes of the IRS, and you can still use the tax rate that applies to married couples instead of your individual rate.

How to File

If you are filing taxes for a deceased loved one, you can use the Form 1040 federal income tax return. If you are the executor of the will, you can sign the form as an estate representative. If you are a surviving spouse, you can sign the income tax return for yourself and then add the words “filing as the surviving spouse.” If there is another executor appointed before the tax return due date, they should also sign. If there is not a surviving spouse or executor, the person who took possession of the person’s property should sign as their representative.

Just like other tax returns, returns for a deceased person are due on April 15 the year following the death. If they did not file a tax return for the prior year, that should be filed as well. You do not need to submit any paperwork to claim a refund as a surviving spouse on a joint return, but there might be other forms in your unique circumstances.

Estate Planning and Tax Filing with Miles Tax Advisory

If you are ready to explore estate planning or plan to minimize your tax liability this year, we are always here to assist you!