When someone dies, their surviving spouse or representative files the deceased person’s final tax return. On the final tax return, the surviving spouse or representative will note that the person has died. The IRS doesn’t need any other notification of the death.
Usually, the representative filing the final tax return is named in the person’s will or appointed by a court. Sometimes when there isn’t a surviving spouse or appointed representative, a personal representative will file the final return.
Here are some things to know about filing the final return
Who should sign the return
When e-filing, the surviving spouse or representative should follow the directions provided by the software for the correct signature and notation requirements. For paper returns, the filer should write the word deceased, the deceased person’s name and the date of death across the top. Here’s who should sign the return:
Other documents to include
The IRS doesn’t need a copy of the death certificate or other proof of death.
If tax is due, the filer should submit payment with the return or visit the payments page of IRS.gov for other payment options. If they can't pay the amount due immediately, they may qualify for a payment plan or installment agreement.
Qualifying widow or widower
Surviving spouses with dependent children may be able to file as a Qualifying Widow(er) for two years after their spouse’s death. This filing status allows them to use joint return tax rates and the highest standard deduction amount if they don't itemize deductions.