Two things in life are certain death and taxes. Here’s what to do if the two are combined as far as filing a tax return.
Tax Returns for the Deceased
If a person dies, their finances are immediately converted into something called an estate. The estate is then responsible for filing a tax return covering the finances including income and distributions to heirs and beneficiaries. However, a final personal tax return must still be filed for the deceased.
The final personal tax return for the deceased is known as Form 1040. Yep, you file the same tax form as you would for any personal tax return. It is hard to believe the IRS passed up an opportunity to create another form, but there you go. Miracles do happen.
When determining the income and taxes due for a person who passes away, the date of death is the cutoff. All income earned before that date for the year goes on the personal tax return. All income earned after death is the responsibility of the estate and will be reported on the estate tax return.
As to deductions, there is good news. Regardless of the time of the year when the grim event occurs, you can claim the full deduction for the year and any other expenses that occur prior to death. Put another way, you don’t have to calculate any ratios based on the number of months that have passed. If someone passes away in February, you still get the full write-offs for the rest of the year.
When a person passes away, an executor or trustee will be in charge of their estate. The exact designation depends on what type of estate planning they did. Nonetheless, this person will sign the tax return and note the person is deceased. This should take care of everything with the IRS excluding the estate tax return.
What happens if the deceased is due a tax refund? In such a situation, the IRS will not just kick out a refund unless the deceased was married. If married, the refund is sent to the spouse. If not, you must file a Form 1310 to get the refund. This form basically says you are claiming the refund, have the right to do so and absolve the IRS of any involvement in subsequent disputes.