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Death of a Taxpayer

Filing a Final Return for a Deceased Person

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When a person dies, his surviving spouse or personal representative should file a tax return on behalf of the deceased. At the very top of the tax return should be written: "DECEASED" with the name of the person who died and his or her date of death. For example: "DECEASED John Smith 6-25-2008".

The tax return should report any wages or other income the deceased person received before the date of death. The full standard deduction and personal exemption can be claimed on the tax return. If the taxpayer itemizes, only those expenses paid before the person died can be deducted.

Any income earned by the person after he or she died is considered income of the person's estate. An estate income tax return (Form 1041) must be filed if over $600 of income was received by the estate.

A personal representative is usually the executor of the deceased person's estate, or whoever is handling the final affairs for the person. The representative must also file Form 1310 (PDF) if you are claiming a refund on behalf of the deceased person.

If the deceased person has assets over $1,500,000, then the representative may also need to file an Estate Tax Return (Form 706) (PDF).

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