Submit tax returns for the deceased

Settle the Estate

In order to settle an estate, the executor or administrator will need to file a number of different tax returns.

Because the deceased and their estate are separate entities, both will need to file taxes separately, as each has their own tax obligation.

However, the estate’s tax return and the deceased’s final tax return may be due on different dates.

For instance, the deceased’s tax return is due by April 15th the year the deceased passed, while the estate tax return is due within one year of the deceased’s passing.

Even if they were not working at their time of death, filing taxes for the deceased is still required. It's likely the deceased received some form of income.

To file taxes for the deceased, the Executor or Administrator should:

  • File a tax return for the deceased as typically done for individuals earning an income
  • Use IRS Form 1040, as well as any applicable state tax return documents
  • Pay by April 15 in the year the deceased died; however, filing extensions are possible if the date of death was close to April 15.
  • Use Form 4868 to request an extension of time to file the deceased’s final income taxes.
  • This does not extend the deadline for paying income taxes, only the time for filing the tax return.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If the deceased’s tax records are difficult to find, or they are incomplete, submit Form 4810 to the IRS to expedite a review of both the deceased’s and the Estate’s tax obligations.

Once such a request is submitted, the IRS has 18 months to evaluate the taxes owed. However, the Executor should still file the deceased’s tax return by the deadline because interest and penalties will accrue for late returns.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders Because an Executor or Administrator can be held personally liable by the IRS for errors, hiring an Estate accountant is recommended. Similarly, if an extension is needed.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More To learn more about submitting the estate’s tax return, see the “Submit estate tax return” Task of the Guide.

Helpful Tips


Executors will need to file a final tax return for the deceased for any tax year in which they lived. That means, even if a person passes on January 2nd, they lived during that particular tax year and taxes will need to be filed.

For example, let’s say Jane Doe filed her 2020 tax return on April 15, 2021, then passed away in May 2021. Jane’s Executor will still need to file a tax return for 2021 because Jane lived five months of the 2021 tax year.

This means her Executor will need to file a 2021 tax return, which would be due in April of 2022. Of course, Jane only lived a portion of 2021, so her income and tax obligations will likely be less than previous years.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders If the executor has any questions regarding whether the deceased will need to file taxes, they should consult with an estate accountant.


Even if the deceased were not working at the time of their death, they may have received some form of income.

Typically, these are:

  • Normal salary / wages
  • Retirement income
  • Social security income
  • Unemployment income
  • Disability income
  • Personal investment income
  • Rental income
  • Business income
  • Defined benefit plan income
  • Defined contribution plan income

Personal Considerations


Was the deceased working at the time of their death?


The executor or administrator should complete and file federal and state income tax returns for the deceased.

While not required, it is wise to hire an estate accountant to assist with the deceased’s final income tax returns.

If the deceased did not already have the necessary information from their employer, such as a W2 Form showing how much income the deceased earned over the past year, the executor should contact the deceased’s employer to get a copy of all relevant tax documents.

Tax documents that may need to be collected from the deceased’s employer include:

  • Form W2, showing income paid and taxes withheld by the employer
  • Form W3, summarizing the information on Form W2
  • Form 1095-B, showing employee health insurance information (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1094-B, summarizing the information on Form 1095-B (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1095-C, showing health coverage information (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1094-C, summarizing information on Form 1095-C (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)

It is still important for the executor or administrator to file federal and state income tax returns for the deceased.

The tax returns can show, if applicable, that no income was received in the last year of the deceased’s life.

Tax returns may also show that the deceased is entitled to a tax refund.

If a refund is received, it should be deposited into the estate’s bank account, not an individual account.

If the deceased was not working at their time of death, but worked within the last tax year, the executor may still need to gather tax information from the deceased’s former employer.

If the deceased did not already have the necessary information from their employer, such as a W2 Form showing how much income the deceased earned over the past year, the executor should contact the deceased’s former employer to get a copy of all relevant tax documents.

Tax documents that may need to be collected from the deceased’s employer include:

  • Form W2, showing income paid and taxes withheld by the employer
  • Form W3, summarizing the information on Form W2
  • Form 1095-B, showing employee health insurance information
  • Form 1094-B, summarizing the information on Form 1095-B
  • Form 1095-C, showing health coverage information
  • Form 1094-C, summarizing information on Form 1095-C

While not required, it is wise to hire an estate accountant to assist with the deceased’s final income tax returns.


If the deceased was working at the time of their death:

The executor or administrator should complete and file federal and state income tax returns for the deceased.

While not required, it is wise to hire an estate accountant to assist with the deceased’s final income tax returns.

If the deceased did not already have the necessary information from their employer, such as a W2 Form showing how much income the deceased earned over the past year, the executor should contact the deceased’s employer to get a copy of all relevant tax documents.

Tax documents that may need to be collected from the deceased’s employer include:

  • Form W2, showing income paid and taxes withheld by the employer
  • Form W3, summarizing the information on Form W2
  • Form 1095-B, showing employee health insurance information (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1094-B, summarizing the information on Form 1095-B (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1095-C, showing health coverage information (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1094-C, summarizing information on Form 1095-C (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
If the deceased was not working at the time of their death:

It is still important for the executor or administrator to file federal and state income tax returns for the deceased.

The tax returns can show, if applicable, that no income was received in the last year of the deceased’s life.

Tax returns may also show that the deceased is entitled to a tax refund.

If a refund is received, it should be deposited into the estate’s bank account, not an individual account.

If the deceased was not working at their time of death, but worked within the last tax year, the executor may still need to gather tax information from the deceased’s former employer.

If the deceased did not already have the necessary information from their employer, such as a W2 Form showing how much income the deceased earned over the past year, the executor should contact the deceased’s former employer to get a copy of all relevant tax documents.

Tax documents that may need to be collected from the deceased’s employer include:

  • Form W2, showing income paid and taxes withheld by the employer
  • Form W3, summarizing the information on Form W2
  • Form 1095-B, showing employee health insurance information
  • Form 1094-B, summarizing the information on Form 1095-B
  • Form 1095-C, showing health coverage information
  • Form 1094-C, summarizing information on Form 1095-C

While not required, it is wise to hire an estate accountant to assist with the deceased’s final income tax returns.


Did the deceased receive income in the last year of their life?


The executor or administrator will need to complete and file state and federal taxes to show any income the deceased may have received in their last year of life.

While not required, it is wise to hire an estate accountant to assist with the deceased’s final income tax returns.

Common forms of income (other than wages) include:

  • Retirement income
  • Social security income
  • Unemployment income
  • Disability income
  • Personal investment income
  • Rental income
  • Business income
  • Defined benefit plan income
  • Defined contribution plan income

Though not every form of income listed above is taxable, it should still be reported to the IRS and State tax authorities.


It is still important for the executor or administrator to file federal and state income tax returns for the deceased.

The tax returns can show, if applicable, that no income was received in the last year of the deceased’s life.

Tax returns may also show that the deceased is entitled to a tax refund. If a refund is received, it should be deposited into the estate’s bank account, not an individual account.

While not required, it is wise to hire an estate accountant to assist with the deceased’s final income tax returns.


If the deceased received income in the last year of their life:

The executor or administrator will need to complete and file state and federal taxes to show any income the deceased may have received in their last year of life.

While not required, it is wise to hire an estate accountant to assist with the deceased’s final income tax returns.

Common forms of income (other than wages) include:

  • Retirement income
  • Social security income
  • Unemployment income
  • Disability income
  • Personal investment income
  • Rental income
  • Business income
  • Defined benefit plan income
  • Defined contribution plan income

Though not every form of income listed above is taxable, it should still be reported to the IRS and State tax authorities.

If the deceased did not received income in the last year of their life:

It is still important for the executor or administrator to file federal and state income tax returns for the deceased.

The tax returns can show, if applicable, that no income was received in the last year of the deceased’s life.

Tax returns may also show that the deceased is entitled to a tax refund. If a refund is received, it should be deposited into the estate’s bank account, not an individual account.

While not required, it is wise to hire an estate accountant to assist with the deceased’s final income tax returns.

Actions to Take


Download form 1040 from the IRS


Download form 4810 from the IRS


Download form 4868 from the IRS

Providers to Contact


Certified Public Accounts Near You

An accountant is a professional who specializes in financial record keeping and reporting. They can help you organize and submit the deceased’s final tax returns.

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Settle the Estate