Filing taxes for someone who has passed away can be a complicated and emotional process, especially if you are unfamiliar with the tax laws and procedures. However, it is important to file the deceased person’s tax return accurately and in a timely manner in order to avoid any potential penalties or issues. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to file taxes for someone who has passed away.
Step 1: Determine the Filing Status
The first step in filing taxes for someone who has passed away is to determine their filing status. This will determine which tax forms need to be filed and how the tax return should be completed. There are five filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. The filing status of the deceased person will depend on their marital status and the date of their death.
If the deceased person was single at the time of their death, their filing status will be single. If they were married at the time of their death, their spouse can choose to file a joint tax return for the year of their death. This is generally the most beneficial option, as it allows the surviving spouse to claim certain credits and deductions that they may not be able to claim if they file separately.
If the surviving spouse chooses not to file a joint tax return, they can file a separate return using the married filing separately status. However, this may result in a higher tax bill and the loss of certain credits and deductions.
If the deceased person was the head of their household at the time of their death, the surviving spouse can file a tax return using the head of household status if they meet certain requirements. This includes being unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year, having a qualifying dependent, and paying more than half the cost of maintaining the household.
If the deceased person was survived by a dependent child and was married at the time of their death, the surviving spouse may be able to file a tax return using the qualifying widow(er) with dependent child status for the two tax years following the year of the deceased person’s death.
Step 2: Gather Necessary Documents
Once you have determined the filing status of the deceased person, you will need to gather all the necessary documents to complete their tax return. This may include:
- Social Security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- W-2 forms for wages earned
- 1099 forms for any other income, such as dividends or interest
- Receipts for charitable donations
- Receipts for medical expenses
- Receipts for tax-deductible expenses, such as business expenses or education costs
Step 3: File the Final Tax Return
The next step is to file the final tax return for the deceased person. This is the tax return for the tax year in which they passed away. The final tax return should include all income earned up to the date of death, as well as any income earned by the surviving spouse if they are filing a joint tax return.
To file the final tax return, you will need to use the appropriate tax form for the deceased person’s filing status. If the deceased person was single at the time of their death, you will need to use Form 1040. If they were married at the time of their death and you are filing a joint tax return, you will need to use Form 1040. If you are filing a separate tax return, you will need to use Form 1040-SR.
Step 4: File Form 1310
If you are responsible for filing a tax return for someone who has passed away, you may need to use Form 1310, Statement of a Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer. This form is used to claim a tax refund on behalf of a deceased individual.
To file a Form 1310, you will need to gather all of the necessary documents, including the decedent’s tax return for the year in question and any supporting documentation. You will also need to provide your own personal and contact information, as well as information about your relationship to the deceased individual.
Once you have gathered all of the necessary information and completed the form, you will need to mail it to the IRS. It is important to ensure that you include all of the required documentation and that you complete the form accurately to avoid any delays in the processing of the tax refund.
In addition to completing the Form 1310, you may also need to file other forms and documents, such as Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship, if you are acting as the personal representative for the deceased individual’s estate.
Filing a tax return for someone who has passed away is not easy logistically or emotionally, but it is important to ensure that it is done correctly in order to claim any tax refunds that may be due. By gathering all of the necessary documents and completing the forms accurately, you can help to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.