*Filing Status *
In the tax year in which a spouse dies, the surviving spouse may file a joint income tax return as long as the surviving spouse did not remarry in that same year. A surviving spouse may file a “married filing separately" if the spouse does remarry. The IRS allows some surviving spouses to file as a “qualified widower" which means they can pay a tax rate for married couples filing jointly if the qualified spouse still has a child who qualifies as a dependent.
Income Tax Following a Spouse’s Death
A surviving spouse’s tax return is due on April 15th just like all other income tax returns and is not due immediately after death like some estate taxes. There is no special form for filing a deceased spouse’s tax return. The decedent’s name must appear on the form and the word “deceased" should appear after it.
Usually a surviving spouse would file a tax return on behalf of the deceased but an executor or personal representative of the estate may file an income tax return if the spouses are not filing jointly or if there is no surviving spouse.
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