Can a Deceased Person Be Claimed on a Tax Return?

The process for claiming a decedent is no different than claiming living dependents.

The process for claiming a decedent is no different than claiming living dependents.

Losing someone close to you is tragic enough without having to worry about how that loss impacts your income tax return. Filing a tax return is considered by many taxpayers a tedious undertaking, but thankfully, the filing process doesn’t deviate much, even for claiming deceased persons. There are a few pieces of information you should familiarize yourself with before claiming a decedent, but for the most part the process is the same as that for claiming any other dependent.

Who Can Claim a Deceased Person?

You can claim a deceased person on your income tax return only if you would have qualified to claim that person as an exemption on your return prior to his death. You can claim only a deceased person who met the criteria to be considered a qualifying relative or qualifying child. A qualifying child includes your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of them. You can claim a person as an exemption only if he was not required to file a tax return, which means he must not have earned more than $3,800 during the tax year. Under no circumstances can you claim the dependent of another taxpayer.

Additional Eligibility Requirements

To claim a deceased child as a "qualifying child" on your tax return, certain requirements must have been met during the tax year. The child must have been under age 19 at the end of the tax year (or under age 24 if a student); must have lived with you for more than half the tax year; must not have provided more than half of her own support during the tax year; and must not have filed a joint return. To be considered a qualifying relative, the person must have lived with you for the full tax year and must not be your qualifying child.


If you are filing jointly with a decedent, or claiming a decedent on your income tax return, it is your responsibility to collect the decedent’s income information and file the final tax return. The decedent's tax return is due on the same day it would have been due had there not been a death.

Filing Process

Write the word “DECEASED”, the decedent’s name, and the date of death across the top of the tax return if you are filing for a deceased person. If you are claiming a deceased person on your income tax return, file your return as you would normally, adding the decedent’s name and Social Security number to the return. If the deceased person is due a refund, and you are not filing as a surviving spouse, then you are required to complete IRS Form 1310, Statement of Person Claiming a Refund for a Deceased Person.

About the Author

Denise Caldwell is a finance writer who has been writing on taxation and finance since 2006. Her articles appear regularly on websites such as and She has taken what she learned while working at the IRS to provide readers with helpful tax and finance tips. Caldwell received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Howard University.

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