Decedents: Income Tax Filing
A personal representative (fiduciary) is responsible for filing certain tax returns
for a person who has died, and for the decedent's estate. The personal representative
may be required to file the final income tax return of the decedent and any returns
not filed for preceding years, the income tax return for the estate, and the estate
The filing requirements that apply to individuals will determine if a final income
tax return is required for the decedent.
Whether income must be included or deductions may be taken on the final return is
determined by the method of accounting used by the decedent. Most individuals use
the cash method. Under this method, the final return should show only the items
of income the decedent actually received, that were credited to his account, or
that were made available to him without restriction before death. Generally, expenses
the decedent paid before death should be deducted on the final return. If the decedent
used the accrual method, refer to Publication 559,
Survivors, Executors, and Administrators, and Publication 538,
Accounting Periods and Methods, for further information.
The final return should have the word "Deceased," the decedent's name, and the date
of death written across the top of the return. Generally, the person who is filing
a return for a decedent and claiming a refund must file Form 1310 (PDF) , Statement
of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer, with the return.
However, if you are a surviving spouse filing a joint return, or a court appointed
or certified personal representative filing an original return for the decedent,
you do not have to file Form 1310. Personal representatives must attach to the return
a copy of the court certificate showing the appointment.
If a personal representative has been appointed, that person must sign the return.
If it is a joint return, the surviving spouse also must sign it. If you are a surviving
spouse filing a joint return and no personal representative has been appointed,
you should sign the return and write in the signature area, "Filing as surviving
spouse." If no personal representative has been appointed and there is no surviving
spouse, the person in charge of the decedent's property must file and sign the return
as "personal representative."
Please refer to the
Form 1041 Instructions to determine if a Form 1041 (PDF), U.S. Income
Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, is required to be filed.
You may have to file
Form 706 (PDF), United States Estate (and Generation Skipping Transfer) Tax
Return. Please refer to the Form 706 Instructions
to determine if a Form 706 is required to be filed.