Q: I lost my husband a few months ago. How do I file our taxes this year?
A. We are so sorry about your loss. The death of a loved one is never easy. Hopefully the answer to your question will help make things a little easier for you at tax time.
How You Should File
Firstly, as a widow, you may file Married Filing Jointly for your spouse’s year of death. Keeping your joint filing status will allow you to get the same tax breaks as when your spouse was alive, like personal exemptions, lower tax rates, and other valuable tax breaks for married couples. For the next two years following your spouse’s death, you may be able to file as a Qualifying Widow(er) if you have a dependent child, which allows you the same lower tax rate as Married Filing Jointly returns.
If there is an executor or administrator, he or she must sign the tax return for your spouse. If there is not an executor or administrator, you can e-file your tax return, and TurboTax will enter the correct information the IRS needs to know about your deceased spouse at the top of your tax return based on your answers to simple questions.
If a tax refund is expected, you should also complete and file a Form 1310, Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer. Although the IRS says you don’t have to file Form 1310 if you are a surviving spouse filing a joint return, you probably should file the form anyway to avoid possible delays.
If your spouse paid tax deductible expenses before death, you can deduct them on your joint tax return. If you incurred medical bills as a result of illness for your spouse, you may be able to deduct the medical bills – even if the bills were not paid until one year after your spouse’s death if they were paid from the decedent’s estate within the one year period after death.
Inheritance and Estate Tax
You may be wondering about inheritance and estate taxes. In most cases, as a surviving spouse, you are free from inheritance taxes. In 2016, estates of $5,450,000 or less do not pay any estate tax.
Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and help you easily file your spouse’s taxes.