The Caton Law Firm PLLC
206 S. Tennessee, PO Box 387 McKinney, TX 75070 - Phone.972.562.0777 - Fax.972.562.0780










Current Events and General Client Memos

Income Tax Filing for a Recent Widow(er)

1. Spouse died during the year. If your spouse died during the year, you are considered married for the whole year for filing status purposes, even if the spouse died on the first day of the year.

If you did not remarry before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return for yourself and your deceased spouse. For the next 2 years, you may also receive special benefits described under Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child.

If you remarried before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return with your new spouse. Your deceased spouse's filing status is married filing separately for that year in that event.

2. Spouse died before signing. If your spouse died before signing the return, the executor or administrator must sign the return for your spouse. If neither you nor anyone else has yet been appointed as executor or administrator, you can sign the return for your spouse and print "Filing as surviving spouse" in the area where you sign the return.

3. Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child. The year of death is the last year for which you can file jointly with your deceased spouse. However, you may be eligible to use qualifying widow(er) with dependent child as your filing status for 2 years following the year of death of your spouse. This filing status entitles you to use joint return tax rates and the highest standard deduction amount (if you do not itemize deductions). This status does not entitle you to file a joint return. If you file as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, you can use either Form 1040A or Form 1040. Indicate your filing status by checking the box on line 5 of either form. Write the year your spouse died in the space provided on line 5. Use the Married filing jointly column of the Tax Table or Schedule Y-1 of the Tax Rate Schedules to figure your tax. You are eligible to file your return as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child if you meet all of the following tests:

You were entitled to file a joint return with your spouse for the year your spouse died. It does not matter whether you actually filed a joint return.

You did not remarry before the end of the two years following the year of death.

You have a child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child for whom you can claim an exemption.

You paid more than half of the cost of keeping up a home that is the main home for you and that child for the entire year, except for temporary absences.