Can You File a Deceased Taxpayer Return Electronically?

by Lexa W. Lee Google

    A federal tax return can be filed electronically on behalf of a deceased taxpayer by the personal representative of an estate. This can be the executor, administrator or anyone in charge of the decedent's property, says the Internal Revenue Service. Many states also allow electronic filing of decedent state tax returns.

    Upon the death of a taxpayer, the personal representative, who can be a survivor of the decedent, is responsible for filing the final individual income tax returns of the decedent by April 15 of the year after the taxpayer's death. Before filing, the representative should first notify the Social Security Administration of the death at www.ssa.gov/online/index.html or by calling (800) 772-1213.

    The personal representative should file the decedent tax return using the same tax form the decedent would have used, whether that's a Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, or Form 1040NR. The decedent's Personal Identification Number, or PIN, for the prior year or the Prior Year Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, amount will be required to e-file. Otherwise, the IRS will provide a PIN if the previous one cannot be found.

    E-filing a return with the IRS can then be done directly at www.irs.gov/filing. To claim a refund on behalf of the decedent, the personal representative may need to file Form 1310 in addition to the return. The IRS may allow both Form 1310 and the return to be e-filed, depending on how the personal representative answers questions pertaining to the decedent's situation. If the forms cannot be e-filed, the IRS program will indicate this and block the filing process.

    When filing the decedent return, the personal representative should write "deceased" after the taxpayer's name and report only income earned between the beginning of the year of death and the date of death. IRS Publication 559, "Survivors, Executors, and Administrators," provides more information on personal representatives. Form 8453, "U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return," is required if additional specified documents must be attached to the return.

    About the Author

    Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.

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