My spouse passed away last year, and I want to file a joint return. How should I file, how should I sign, and are there any special notations required to indicate my spouse is deceased?

Answer:

  • Across the top of the return - above the area where you enter your address, write "Deceased," your spouse’s name, and the date of death.
  • When you're a surviving spouse filing a joint return and a personal representative hasn't been appointed, you should sign the return and write "filing as surviving spouse" in the signature area below your signature.
  • When you're a surviving spouse filing a joint return and a personal representative has been appointed, you and the personal representative should sign the return.
  • A decedent taxpayer's tax return can be filed electronically. Follow the specific directions provided by your preparation software for proper signature and notation requirements.

Note: You can't file a final joint return with your deceased spouse if you as the surviving spouse remarried before the end of the year of death. The filing status of the decedent in this instance is married filing separately.

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How do I sign my tax return when I e-file?

Answer:

You can sign your tax return electronically by using a Self-Select PIN, which serves as your digital signature when using tax preparation software, or a Practitioner PIN when using an Electronic Return Originator (ERO).

Self-Select PIN - Use the Self-Select PIN method when you're using tax preparation software. The Self-Select PIN allows you to electronically sign your individual income tax return by selecting a five-digit personal identification number (PIN). The PIN can be any five numbers (except all zeros) that you choose to enter as your electronic signature PIN.

If you're filing a joint return, each spouse uses his or her own PIN. As part of the authentication process, each taxpayer also enters his or her date of birth and either his or her:

Practitioner PIN - The Practitioner PIN is a method that paid preparers use and doesn't require a prior AGI amount or prior year PIN. When using an ERO, you must always complete and sign an authorization form such as the Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization. Under this method, you authorize your tax practitioner to enter or generate your PIN. 

 

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