How to file a joint tax return with deceased spouse?
Generally, where one spouse dies during the tax year, a joint return can be filed only by the executor or administrator and the survivor. If a taxpayer died before filing a return for 2014, the taxpayer’s spouse or personal representative may have to file and sign a return for that taxpayer. A personal representative can be an executor, administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the deceased taxpayer’s property. If the deceased taxpayer did not have to file a return but had tax withheld, a return must be filed to get a refund. There are several exceptions to this general rule that may be helpful when someones husband or wife passes away and the other spouse needs to file income taxes on behalf of the deceased.
Joint Tax Return of Recently Deceased Spouse
The surviving spouse, alone, however, may file a joint return if certain requirements are met.
The requirements for surviving spouse to file a tax return on behalf of a dead spouse are listed below:
- no return was filed by the decedent for the tax year at issue
- no executor or administrator was appointed
- and no executor or administrator was appointed before the last day for filing the return of the surviving spouse, including any extensions of time for filing.
For most families without any complicated estate issues, this will allow the surviving spouse to file a tax return legally on behalf of the dead spouse. Most tax software such as TurboTax and H and R Block have questions that will help accurately fill out the tax return of the dead spouse.
Who may file a tax return on behalf of a dead person?
However, there are certain exceptions to the rule about who may file a tax return on behalf of a dead person. Even if all of the above tests are met by the surviving spouse, an administrator or executor who are subsequently appointed, may disaffirm a joint return made by the surviving spouse by filing a separate return for the decedent.
This disaffirmance by a person in charge of the estate must be made within one year after the last day allowed for filing the return of the surviving spouse including extensions. If a disaffirmance against the surviving spouse is made, then the already filed joint return will be considered the survivor’s separate return and different income tax rates may apply.
In the end, the survivor’s tax will be figured by excluding all of the items properly includible in the return of the deceased spouse. If this becomes the case, a tax accountant or lawyer may be required to properly file a tax return after a disaffirmance of the prior tax return has occurred.
IRS Form 1310 – Joint Return as Surviving Spouse
If you are filing a joint return as a surviving spouse, you only need to file the tax return to claim the refund. If you are a court-appointed representative, file the return and attach a copy of the certificate that shows your appointment. All other filers requesting the deceased taxpayer’s refund must file the return and attach Form 1310.