There is an old saying that death and taxes are the only certainties in life. It may surprise you to know that tax obligations do not end automatically with a person’s death.
After a person dies, you or someone representing the decedent needs to file a tax return on his or her behalf reporting the income that the decedent received in a given tax year prior to his or her death. This can be a challenging task, but AARP describes some ways to carry it out effectively.
Determine who will file
Usually, the responsibility to file a tax return on behalf of a deceased person falls to either the executor of the estate or the surviving spouse. For example, if you and your deceased spouse filed jointly while your spouse was still alive, you may have the right to do so for up to two years after your spouse’s death under certain circumstances.
Get permission from the IRS
You do not have to be a surviving spouse or the executor of an estate to file income taxes on behalf of someone who has died. You could be a grown child or a business partner. In these instances, you do have to fill out a form to get permission from the IRS to file taxes for the decedent.
Update the return’s address
Tax returns require the address of the filer. You cannot include the decedent’s old address because he or she obviously no longer lives there. Instead, enter your address but make it clear that it is an “in care of” address since you are not filing the return for yourself.
The process of filing a tax return for someone who has died is fairly straightforward. However, it can be difficult if you are still dealing with your own grief or if there are unusual circumstances. For example, if the person had not filed for a while, you may have to fill out returns for previous years as well.