A parent's death creates many emotional and logistical challenges, including filing a final tax return. TurboTax has a special provision for filing a deceased person's taxes that involves only a few extra steps. Otherwise, you will complete the return normally.
Read More: How to Prepare Other People's Taxes With Turbo Tax
How to File a Deceased Tax Return in TurboTax
The TurboTax questionnaire will guide you through the return preparation process. Begin by gathering all the deceased's available tax-related documents. You can then create a new TurboTax return in the deceased's name. Proceed through the questionnaire, answering the questions and inputting the requested data.
Assuming the decedent used the cash accounting method (as most individuals do), enter any taxable income the deceased received between the first of the year and the date of death. Income received after the date of death is "income in respect of a decedent" and resides on the return of the beneficiary who receives it.
On the decedent's return, you can deduct the decedent's expenses paid before death (if you don't choose the standard deduction) and medical bills paid within one year after the day of death. If you select the standard deduction instead, take the full deduction – it isn't prorated.
At one point, the program will ask if "this person passed away before filing the tax return." Check the box and complete the return.
Finishing Up the Filing Process
When finished, you can print the return, entering "Deceased" on the taxpayer's signature line and your name on the preparer's line. If applicable, complete the deceased's state tax return in TurboTax in a similar manner.
If the deceased owes taxes, enclose a check for the amount due. Enter "Deceased," the deceased's name and Social Security number on the memo line.
Read More: Who Contacts the IRS When Someone Dies?
If the IRS owes the deceased a refund, complete and attach Form 1310, Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer. Also, include a copy of the power of attorney or other relevant documents.
You can mail in or e-file the return. Many states permit the electronic filing of a deceased's final state return. If you choose this option, check the e-file box in TurboTax and provide your email address to receive confirmation.
TurboTax does not support the filing of an estate tax return.
Who Is Responsible for Filing Taxes for a Deceased Person?
Typically, the deceased's surviving spouse files a joint return for the year of death. If there is no surviving spouse, or if the spouse can't or won't file the return, the duty falls to the deceased's personal representative, who may be an executor, named in a will, POA, IRS Form 2848 or other legal documents, or a court-appointed administrator if the deceased left no written instructions.
If you are the deceased's child acting as executor or administrator, you should immediately apply for an Employee Identification Number (EIN) for the deceased's estate. If you are acting as a fiduciary for your parent's estate, you should notify the IRS by submitting Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship.
If your parent was your dependent, do not fill out a separate income tax return on your parent's behalf. Instead, include the relevant information in your own tax return, adding the decedent's name and Social Security number to the return.
In any event, you should notify the Social Security Administration of your parent's death.
Support From the IRS
The IRS gives an overview, entitled Deceased Persons – Filing the Final Return(s) of a Deceased Person, to help orient you to the tasks involved in filing your parent's final return.
IRS Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators contains the detailed information you may need to file a parent's return. In addition, you can use the Instructions to Form 1041, US Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts to help you file a tax return for a deceased estate.
- TurboTax: Death in the Family
- IRS: About Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship
- IRS: About Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative
- IRS: Deceased Persons – Filing the Final Return(s) of a Deceased Person
- IRS: About Publication 559, Survivors, Executors and Administrators
Eric Bank is a senior business, finance and real estate writer, freelancing since 2002. He has written thousands of articles about business, finance, insurance, real estate, investing, annuities, taxes, credit repair, accounting and student loans. Eric writes articles, blogs and SEO-friendly website content for dozens of clients worldwide, including get.com, badcredit.org and valuepenguin.com. Eric holds two Master's Degrees -- in Business Administration and in Finance. His website is ericbank.com.