Do I have to complete a tax return for a deceased person?

Unfortunately, even after a person has died, they’ll still be responsible for the taxes they owe to HMRC. If you’re handling their tax affairs and miss the deadline by up 3 months, you’ll receive a penalty of £100. If it’s later, or if you pay your bill late, you’ll be charged interest on those payments. You can appeal a penalty if you have a reasonable excuse, such as 

  • your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
  • a serious or life-threatening illness
  • Issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services
  • a fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
  • postal delays that you could not have predicted
  • delays related to a disability you have

Who is responsible for the tax affairs of the deceased?

Only certain people can act as a representative for the deceased’s tax affairs, depending on whether they left a will or not. 

If there is a will, and you are named the “executor”, you can apply for probate. If there’s not a will, it will be an “administrator” who deals with the estate of the deceased. You can become the estate’s administrator if you were one of the following to the deceased:

  • Spouse (even if you were separated)
  • Civil partner
  • Child 

An executor or administrator may have to apply for a special legal authority before they can deal with the estate. This is called probate.

How do I apply for probate?

If you’re the administrator or executor of their estate, you’ll need to apply for probate on HMRC’s website. Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (or their estate). 

If you are an executor, you’ll get a “grant of probate”. If you are the administrator, you will receive “letters of administration”. You can usually expect these within 4 weeks of sending in your documents.

How do I file a tax return for the deceased?

If you are filing a tax return for a deceased person, you’ll need to contact HMRC and report the death as soon as you can. You’ll also need to have the following information on hand:

  • Date of the death
  • Name and address of who to contact

And one of the following for the deceased:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • Full address
  • Last employer’s name and address

They will then let you know if you need to file a tax return on the deceased’s behalf.

What records do I need to file a Self Assessment tax return for the deceased?

Depending on the circumstances, the records you’ll need to file a tax return for the deceased will vary. You’ll need details of their bank and savings accounts, such as bank statements, building society passbooks. 

Any income received after the person’s death, such as rent from properties or income from a business, belongs to their estate. The executor will need to report this to HMRC as part of probate (see below) so that the correct amount of tax is paid by the estate.

When do I need to file the tax return?

You will need to wait until the following tax year after the person’s death before you can file a tax return online. For example, If the deceased died in August, you will have to wait until April 6, when the next tax year starts, before you can file the return online. You do not have to wait if you send it by post.

How can GoSimpleTax help?

GoSimpleTax’s software can help take the stress out of filing taxes during the bereavement process. Simply gather the information required, and our intuitive tax software will use the information you upload in real-time to calculate your income and expenditure, working out the tax you owe and sending you helpful notifications when there’s the possibility of a mistake. Start your free trial today, and have one less thing to worry about during this difficult time.

Start your free trial