Authored by Geoff Vaughan in Taxes
Published on 05-05-2009
The death of a friend or family member is always a tough thing to go through. And once the funeral is over, there are often many things that have to be taken care of. Often the person’s home needs to be cleaned out, pets have to be taken care of, and various financial tasks have to be done as well. Bank accounts have to be closed, bills have to be paid, and inheritances must be distributed. And often the last financial task that has to be completed is to file that person’s taxes for the last time.
Filing income taxes for a deceased person is much like filing for a person who is still alive, with a few key differences. The preparer should write the word “DECEASED” at the top of the return, along with the name of the deceased person. Also, the date of death should be noted after the name. If the preparer opts to use the standard deduction on the return, the full amount can be used, as well as the personal exemption. However, if the preparer chooses to itemize the return, such as if the deceased had a mortgage or other expenses to write off, only the expenses that the person had paid out before his or her death are allowed to be deducted.
After the death of the person, any income that the deceased earns does not go on this return, since the income is part of that person’s estate. In this case, the executor of the estate should file an IRS Form 1041, which is the estate income tax return. This form should only be filed if the estate earned more than six hundred dollars.
If a refund is claimed on the return, IRS Form 1310, Statement of a Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer, must be filed. Various questions are asked on this form, such as that of the preparer’s relationship to the deceased. The filer can be either a surviving spouse who is requesting the reissuance of a refund check, a court appointed or certified personal representative, or another person who is authorized to claim the tax refund. In the case of the latter two, the preparer must include documentation showing why he or she is authorized to receive the refund. Other questions include whether there was a will, and what will happen to the money that is refunded.
Filing state income taxes for a deceased person usually requires a special form to be filled out as well, and the process is generally similar to filing that person’s Federal income taxes. It’s a good idea to check out the state’s Department of Revenue website for specific instructions on how to file during this situation. Although filing taxes for a deceased person may sound like an arduous task, it’s a process that millions of people have gone through before, and in most cases can be negotiated with ease. If you’re not sure about something during the process, it’s always best to get the advice of a professional.