Filing taxes after your spouse dies


Q. My husband was 100 percent military disabled and passed away in October. Since we only had military disability and Social Security, we weren’t required to file last year. Is it the same for me this year? I have my military dependent compensation and Social Security only. Do I file at all, and if I do, is it married jointly or single?
— Widow

A. We’re sorry for the loss of your husband.

Here’s what you’ll need to do for taxes.

In the year that your husband passed away, you would still file married filing joint for that year.

You are considered married for the whole year, said Patricia Daquila, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.

However, going forward, you would file either single if you do not have a dependent child or as a qualifying widow if you have a dependent child, she said. You can file as a qualifying widow for two years after your husband’s death.

It’s hard to determine whether you need to file or not because you did not provide your income level.

“If your husband was receiving his military disability due to an injury caused in active service, he may have been able to exclude those benefits from income for federal tax purposes,” she said.

So filing depends on your gross income for the year.

Gross income means all income that you receive that isn’t exempt from tax, Daquila said.

If you are married filing joint for 2017, and you are under 65, you are not required to file a tax return if your gross income is less than $20,800, she said. If you were both older than 65, then you would not need to file a return if your gross income was lower than $23,300.

“In calculating your gross income, if one half of your Social Security and your other gross income, including tax exempt income, is greater than $25,000, then you would need to file a tax return,” she said.

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This post was first published in March 2018. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.