Donald C. Reutemann CFP®, RPA

(518) 688-2223

Tax Read Time: 4 min

Filing Final Tax Returns for the Deceased

When a family member passes away, there are many decisions that need to be made and many emotions to handle. The last thing anyone thinks about is taxes.

Unfortunately, even the deceased can’t escape taxation. If the departed family member earned taxable income during the year in which they died, then federal taxes may be owed. An executor or a survivor must, therefore, file a final federal income tax return (Form 1040).1

Similarly, if the deceased individual had a sizable estate or assets that might generate income in the future, the estate may owe taxes. Federal estate tax forms pertaining to the decedent’s estate may need to be filed (Form 1041, Form 706).1

The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult a professional with tax expertise if you find yourself in this situation.

Income Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service generally gives you until April 15 of the year following the taxpayer’s death to file a final 1040 form. If the deceased was married, a surviving spouse has the option to file a final joint federal tax return for the last year in which the deceased lived.2

If you file the return online, the IRS provides instructions on all of this. If you are filing a paper return, you must write “Deceased,” the decedent’s name, and the date of death at the top of the 1040 form. An appointed personal representative and/or surviving spouse must sign this return per IRS guidelines. If a refund is due, you may need to file a Form 1310 (Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer).2,3

Estate Taxes

If an estate is large enough, Form 706 (the United States Estate Tax Return) is due to the IRS within nine months of the death of the deceased, with a 6-month extension permitted. The individual federal estate tax exemption is $11.7 million for 2021, so an estate smaller than $11.7 million may not be faced with estate taxes unless the deceased individual made substantial monetary gifts before their passing.4,5

When the decedent’s estate has an executor or administrator (in IRS terminology, an “appointed personal representative”), they must sign the return for the decedent. For a joint return, the spouse must also sign. Alternately, a survivor of the deceased can file the return.2

If an estate generates more than $600 in gross yearly income within 12 months of that taxpayer’s death, it will also be necessary to file Form 1041 (U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts), usually by April 15 of the year after the year in which the individual died. Should 100% of the income-generating assets of the deceased be exempt from probate, the need to file Form 1041 is removed. Estates required to file Form 1041 should consult a tax professional.1

Lastly, there are some cases where expenses paid before death can be deductible. Under certain circumstances, part of the cost of treating a final illness may be deducted on the deceased’s final federal tax return.1

You Are Not Alone

A death in the family can take a heavy toll. In the event of such a tragedy, the last thing you may want to do is deal with the related financial issues. Contact us – we are here to help.

1. IRS.gov, March 12, 2021
2. IRS.gov, March 12, 2021
3. Investopedia.com, February 9, 2021
4. IRS.gov, 2020
5. IRS.gov, March 12, 2021

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Share |
 

Related Content

Rightsizing for Retirement

Rightsizing for Retirement

What does your home really cost?

The Basics of Medicare

The Basics of Medicare

Learn all about Medicare basics in this informative and insightful article.

Hindsight 2020: The New Gig Thing

Hindsight 2020: The New Gig Thing

The gig economy has been on the rise for years, for better or for worse. Of the 10 million jobs created in the US between 2005 and 2015, a staggering 94 percent were in the category of “alternative work,” meaning gig work or other temporary employment.

 

Have A Question About This Topic?







Thank you! Oops!

Starting a Roth IRA for a Teen

This early financial decision could prove helpful over time.

Not Just Equal Pay, Equal Job Security

While this may feel like a golden age for the LGBTQ community—with the affirmation of marriage equality and a cultural shift embracing diversity—these successes may distract...

The Business Cycle

Understanding the economy's cycles can help put current business conditions in better perspective.

View all articles

What Is My Life Expectancy?

Estimate how many years you may need retirement assets or how long to provide income to a surviving spouse or children.

Assess Your Life Insurance Needs

This calculator estimates how much life insurance you would need to meet your family's needs if you were to die prematurely.

My Retirement Savings

Estimate how long your retirement savings may last using various monthly cash flow rates.

View all calculators

Your Cash Flow Statement

A presentation about managing money: using it, saving it, and even getting credit.

Protecting Those Who Matter Most

The importance of life insurance, how it works, and how much coverage you need.

5 Smart Investing Strategies

There are some smart strategies that may help you pursue your investment objectives

View all presentations

Jane Bond: Infiltrating the Market

Agent Jane Bond is on the case, cracking the code on bonds.

Behavioral Finance

An amusing and whimsical look at behavioral finance best practices for investors.

The Junk Drawer Approach to Investing

It's easy to let investments accumulate like old receipts in a junk drawer.

View all videos