How to File Taxes for a Deceased Person

filing taxes for deceased taxpayer

Even in the unfortunate case that someone dies there are still some forms that need to be filed for the deceased. During the year of death, all tax return filings that they were required to fill out are still needed and any tax refunds are still paid out. The person that files the forms and can claim these refunds is dependent on a few variables.

Who is responsible for filing for the deceased person?

Whoever is in charge of the deceased’s estate is responsible for filing their taxes. This is often an executor or broker managing their account but, if the deceased was married, the spouse can file using the married joint filing status, as well. In either case, a death certificate is not necessary to attach to the tax return.

Tax returns can be filed on paper or online for the deceased, but in both cases, make sure to write “deceased” next to the taxpayer’s name and, if filing on paper, write the date of death on top of the return.

Qualifying widow(er)s must meet the following criteria and can use this filing status two years following the death of their spouse:

  • Qualify for married filing jointly status during the year of death, regardless of if that status was actually identified on tax returns
  • No remarriage before the close of the tax year
  • A child, step=child or adopted child is claimed as a dependent
  • Paid at least half of the maintenance costs for the home that the dependent lived in for the entire year

What if there’s a refund?

In the case that there is a tax refund for the deceased, the person claiming the refund must fill out IRS form 1310 (Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due to Deceased Taxpayer). This form is not necessary, however, if the surviving spouse files a joint return with the deceased or if a court-appointed representative is managing the estate.

What if money is owed?

If the deceased taxpayer still owes money, that must first be paid out from the estate before any funds are distributed to beneficiaries. If there’s not enough money in the estate to pay the balance, the responsibility typically doesn’t trickle down to the person managing the estate unless the only reason there aren’t enough funds is that they were already sent to beneficiaries.

If you need assistance with filing a tax return for a deceased person, contact the experts at TaxSlayer today.

This article is up to date and accounts for tax law changes for tax year 2018 (tax returns filed in 2019). Learn more about tax reform enacted under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act here.