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Per IRS Instruction 1040, page 81:

Death of a Taxpayer

If a taxpayer died before filing a return for 2021, the taxpayer's spouse or personal representative may have to file and sign a return for that taxpayer. A personal representative can be an executor, administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the deceased taxpayer's property. If the deceased taxpayer didn't have to file a return but had tax withheld, a return must be filed to get a refund. The person who files the return must enter “Deceased,” the deceased taxpayer's name, and the date of death across the top of the return. If this information isn't provided, it may delay the processing of the return.

Claiming a Refund for a Deceased Taxpayer

If you are filing a joint return as a surviving spouse, you only need to file the tax return to claim the refund. If you are a court-appointed representative, file the return and include a copy of the certificate that shows your appointment. All other filers requesting the deceased taxpayer's refund must file the return and attach Form 1310.


To enter the date of death for the taxpayer or spouse in the TaxAct® program:

  1. From within your TaxAct return (Online or Desktop), click Federal (on smaller devices, click in the top left corner of your screen, then click Federal).
  2. Click the Basic Information dropdown, then click Taxpayer or spouse deceased.
  3. Click the field below the name of the deceased taxpayer, and type the date or use the calendar to enter the date.
  4. After you enter the date of death, TaxAct will show "Deceased", the name of the decedent, and the date of death at the top of your Form 1040.

Tips:

  • A tax return for a decedent can be electronically filed.
  • A personal representative may also obtain an income tax filing extension on behalf of a decedent.
  • When e-filing the return, use the PIN and enter the care of name when you file.

Note that any link in the information above is updated each year automatically and will take you to the most recent version of the webpage or document at the time it is accessed.


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