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 2017, you can use Married Filing Jointly as your filing status for 2017 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 2017 and you have not remarried, you may be able to use this filing status for 2018 and 2019.
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.
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 2015 or 2016 and you did not remarry before the end of 2017.
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.