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Category: Personal Information

How do I file a return for my deceased spouse?

Married Filing Jointly

If your spouse died during the year, you are considered married for the whole year for filing status purposes.


If you did not remarry before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return for yourself and your deceased spouse. For the next 2 years, you may be entitled to the special benefits described later under Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child.


If you remarried before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return with your new spouse. Your deceased spouse's filing status is married filing separately for that year.


When completing the Personal Information: Name, Address, Age, Occupation portion of your return, you must include the information for your deceased spouse. You must check the "Deceased" box and state the date in which the spouse died. That information is required to file as "Married Filing Joint" after your spouse has passed away.


Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child

If your spouse died in 2016, you can use Married Filing Jointly as your filing status for 2016 if you otherwise qualify to use that status. The year of death is the last year for which you can file jointly with your deceased spouse.


You may be eligible to use Qualifying Widow(er) with dependent child as your filing status for 2 years following the year your spouse died. For example, if your spouse died in 2016 and you have not remarried, you may be able to use this filing status for 2017 and 2018.


This filing status entitles you to use joint return tax rates and the highest standard deduction amount (if you do not itemize deductions). This status does not entitle you to file a joint return.


Eligibility rules

1. You were entitled to file a joint return with your spouse for the year your spouse died. It does not matter whether you actually filed a joint return.

2. Your spouse died in 2014 or 2015 and you did not remarry before the end of 2016.

3. You have a child or stepchild for whom you can claim an exemption. This does not include a foster child.

4. This child lived in your home all year, except for temporary absences.

5. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.



If you do not have a dependent child that you claim on your return, you will claim the "Single" filing status following the year in which you claimed the deceased spouse.


See Publication 17 for further information.