Do I Need to Fill Taxes for a Loved One When They Die?

Frequently Asked Questions about Filing Taxes for a Deceased Taxpayer


Filing taxes is not typically considered a pleasant task and can be even more challenging when handling the tax matters of a deceased loved one. It may seem overwhelming to manage a loved one’s estate, but this is where we can help. At Fitchett-Mann, we provide assistance in navigating the process of filing taxes for a deceased taxpayer. Below is a short question-and-answer segment that covers important tax considerations when filing for a deceased individual, including information on IRS Form 1310.

What is the deadline for filing a tax return for a taxpayer who has passed away?

To file taxes for a deceased taxpayer, Form 1310 must be used.

The filing requirements for a deceased taxpayer are the same as those for any other individual taxpayer. Even if the deceased is not obligated to file according to the filing requirements, it may still be beneficial to submit an IRS income tax return to receive a tax refund for any withheld taxes potentially. The deadline for this return is the tax deadline of the year the taxpayer passed away, typically April 15 of the following year.

If the taxpayer died at different times, filing more than one tax return may be necessary. For instance, if the taxpayer passed away in February 2023, two tax returns would need to be submitted – one by April 15, 2023, for the 2022 tax year, and another by April 15, 2024, for the 2023 tax year (which includes January and February 2023).

Who is responsible for filing?

The individual responsible for managing the deceased’s assets (commonly known as the “personal representative”) is responsible for tax preparation and submitting the tax return. This role can be fulfilled by an executor, administrator, surviving spouse, or any other legally authorized individual mentioned in the deceased’s will or in charge of their property. In the case of a married taxpayer, their surviving spouse can file the tax return for the year using the Married Filing Joint status.

Is it possible to electronically file a tax return on behalf of a taxpayer who has passed away?

The final return can indicate the taxpayer’s death. If the return is filed on paper, the words “Deceased,” the taxpayer’s name, and the date of death must be written at the top. If filed electronically, the instructions provided by the tax software must be followed and the taxpayer’s death and date of death must be indicated.

If the final tax return of the deceased individual is not a Joint return, the name of the deceased person should be entered in the name field. The address and name of the personal representative should be included in the address field.

Is it necessary to include a death certificate with the tax return?

It is not necessary to include the taxpayer’s death certificate when filing the tax return.

If a tax refund is owed, what other actions should you take?

Suppose an individual is entitled to a tax refund. In that case, they must complete the IRS Form 1310 : Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due to Deceased Taxpayer unless they are a surviving spouse filing a joint return or a court-appointed personal representative.

Who is responsible for paying if there is a debt?

The estate, which is the governing body of the departed individual’s finances, is responsible for paying taxes. Additionally, all taxes must be settled before funds are allocated to the beneficiaries.

If the funds were not distributed to beneficiaries or used to pay other debts, the personal representative may be held accountable for the tax debt. If you have any inquiries, it is advisable to consult with a tax specialist or lawyer.

What is the eligible filing status for me following the passing of my partner?

If you do not get married again, you have the option to file your taxes as Married Filing Jointly with your spouse who has passed away during the year. Alternatively, you can also choose to file separately as a married individual. However, if an executor is involved, it is necessary to discuss these choices with them and obtain their agreement for a joint return. It is important to note that after the year of your spouse’s death, you will not be eligible to file a joint return unless you do remarry and decide to file jointly with your new spouse. However, under certain circumstances, you may still be able to file as head of household or as a qualifying surviving spouse, as elaborated below.

Is the Qualifying Surviving Spouse filing status available to all surviving spouses?

n order to be considered as a Qualifying Surviving Spouse (previously known as Qualifying Widow/Widower), not all surviving spouses are eligible. Typically, the surviving spouse must meet the following requirements to file as a qualifying surviving spouse:

In the event of the deceased taxpayer’s death, the surviving spouse could file a joint return, even if they did not do so. Additionally, if the surviving spouse had a dependent child who lived with them for the entire year and paid over 50% of the expenses for maintaining the household, they could qualify for certain tax benefits. However, the surviving spouse must not have remarried within the last two years.

If my partner passes away before filing and/or signing a joint tax return, what steps should I take?

When a spouse passes away, the executor or administrator should sign the joint tax return on the spouse’s behalf before filing or signing it.

In situations where there is no appointed executor or administrator, or if administration is unnecessary, the surviving spouse has the authority to sign on behalf of their deceased spouse. When signing the return, please indicate “Filing as surviving spouse” in the designated section.

Can the executor be assigned after a joint return has been filed?

If a person other than the surviving spouse is chosen as the executor or administrator, they have the authority to revoke a joint return within one year. If the executor revokes the joint return, the previously filed return will be converted to a Married Filing Separate return.

Is it possible to consider a child as a dependent if they have passed away?

If a child was present at any point during the year, the dependent exemption may be claimed by a qualifying guardian or parent if the dependency tests are satisfied. In this case, the child is considered to have resided with the taxpayer for the entire year if they have always lived with the taxpayer (excluding temporary absences) before their death. If the child qualifies as the taxpayer’s dependent, the taxpayer is also eligible to claim them for the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Additional assistance for filing taxes on behalf of a deceased individual

When filing taxes for a deceased person, there may be additional tasks and precautions to take. However, this can still be a feasible process. Approach the tax and estate planning process one step at a time, collect all required documents, and consider seeking expert advice if necessary.

Note: The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or professional advice. When making end-of-life decisions, it is always recommended to consult with funeral service professionals, religious leaders, and legal advisors.

Questions? We Can Help.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.