If you’ve lost your spouse, you may qualify for a special tax filing status. The qualifying widow(er) status can be used by taxpayers when filing a tax return after their spouse has died. There are some additional requirements that must be met as follows:
When you file a return for the year your spouse dies, you’re still eligible to file a joint return as long as you haven’t remarried and the executor of your spouse’s estate approves the joint return. However, if either spouse was a non-resident alien at any point, you won’t be able to file a joint return.
For that first year, you’ll include your entire amount of income and deductions for the whole year. Your spouse’s income and deductions are included up to the date of death, and if your spouse owed taxes, you may be liable for the outstanding debt if the estate can’t pay it.
For the next two years after the death, you’ll be eligible to use the qualifying widow(er) status, which offers a higher standard deduction and lower tax rate than the Single taxpayer status. There are certain requirements you have to follow in order to use the status:
- You haven’t remarried.
- You have a dependent child (not foster child) who lived with you the entire year and you provided more than half of the child’s support and maintenance costs for the home.
- You were eligible to file a joint return the year your spouse died, even if you didn’t file jointly.
For the first year that your spouse died, you should still file married filing jointly. Then for the two tax years that follow, you can use the qualifying widow(er) status when you file your return.