Filing a Tax Return for a Deceased Person

If someone in your life passes, you might need to file their taxes post-mortem

Managing a deceased loved one’s estate is extremely difficult, especially when a client needs to file their taxes.  Help make your client’s life easier by guiding them through the process by using these common questions as a guide.

Who assumes the responsibility of filing a tax return for a deceased person?

The executor, or the person in charge of the decedent’s estate, will handle their taxes. If the deceased didn’t leave a will, it’s up to the court to select the executor. If they were married, the spouse can file the tax return using the married filing jointly status.

Does IRS Form 1310 need to be used to file a final tax return for a decedent?

No. A regular Form 1040 is used to file a deceased person’s tax return. Under IRS Publication 559, Form 1310 must only be used to claim any refund that is due to a deceased taxpayer. Your client doesn’t have to fill out Form 1310 if they’re a surviving spouse filing a joint return or a court-appointed personal representative.

What if the deceased person is a child?

Your client can claim the deceased child as a dependent, as long as they meet the dependency requirements. They may also be eligible to claim the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit if the child qualifies for the dependency exemption.

If money is owed to the IRS, who is responsible for paying the fee?

The executor is responsible for paying taxes using money from the estate. It’s important not to distribute money to any beneficiaries until the taxes are paid off. If there’s not enough money in the estate to cover the taxes, the debt doesn’t carry over to the executor or beneficiaries. 

When is the final tax return due?

The final tax return is due by the filing deadline for the tax year in which the decedent died. This date is usually April 15, but if that date falls on the weekend, the due date moves to the next business day. If the next business day falls on a state holiday, residents of that state will receive another day to file their tax return.