When someone close to you passes away, there are an overwhelming number of emotions and responsibilities to contend with. Probably the last thing on your mind is the decedent’s income tax obligations. However, it’s important to know that an income tax return must still be filed for this person.
In this article, we walk through the basics of this process:
Who files the return?
If the decedent has a surviving spouse, this person may file jointly with the decedent. Otherwise, the executor typically handles this process.
How do I file for a deceased person?
Filing for a decedent is similar to filing for yourself. The first step is to gather the decedent’s appropriate tax documentation (e.g., W-2, 1099 and interest statements). If you are unable to locate the necessary documentation, then you can request it from the IRS.
In order for the IRS to release this information to you, you will need to demonstrate that you are authorized to have it. You must submit the following information as proof:
- The name, address and Social Security number of the decedent
- A copy of the decedent’s death certificate
- A copy of court-approved Letters Testamentary or, if none is available, IRS Form 56 – Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship
If the decedent has failed to file taxes for multiple years leading up to their death, you must also file for these years. To obtain the tax filing history of the decedent, you can file a Request for Transcript of Tax Return (IRS Form 4506-T).
Can I get an extension?
If you need extra time to file a tax return for a decedent, you may file an extension. However, this extension only pushes back the deadline to file. If the decedent owes any money in taxes, you are still responsible for paying it by the regular deadline.