Death and taxes are often cited as life's two certainties. In the United States, an administrator, executor or other authorized person is usually required to account for the deceased's property, assets and taxable income. The forms the personal representative must file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may vary depending upon the type of assets held in the deceased's estate as well as the amount of taxable income earned by the estate.
The executor will typically be required to file a final tax return. This return may be filed on IRS Form 1040 or IRS Form 1040EZ. If the deceased had taxable income, a final tax return must be filed and the estate must pay any taxes due. If the deceased was not required by law to file a tax return, there is no need to file a final return. If the deceased was not required to file, but had already paid income taxes to the IRS, a final return must be filed in order for the estate or the deceased's beneficiaries to receive a refund. The spouse of a deceased taxpayer, who has not remarried, may file a joint return on IRS Form 1040 for the tax year in which the death occurred.
Personal representatives who file a final return for a deceased taxpayer who has a tax refund due will need to file an IRS Form 1310, Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer, along with the final Form 1040, according to IRS Tax Topic 356, Decedents. Certain representatives such as a surviving, un-remarried spouse who files a final joint return, are not required to include Form 1310 with their return. Court-appointed personal representatives do not have to file Form 1310 with the final return, but are required to include a copy of the court appointment.
Personal representatives who file tax returns for the deceased's estate will typically file a Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts. An estate is a legal entity for tax purposes, which is created at the time a taxpayer dies, according to the IRS. IRS Form 1041 is used to report gains and losses, as well as income and deductions incurred by the estate after the death of the taxpayer. The estate's personal representative will use IRS Form 1041 to report estate income tax liabilities in addition to any employment taxes paid on behalf of domestic employees.
Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.