Browse Tax Articles
H&R Block Tax Professionals relentlessly focus on making sure you profit from every deduction and credit available.
Finding answers to your tax questions is now less taxing.
Your filing status determines your income tax rate and standard deduction. If you're a recent widow(er), file your taxes under the filing status that saves you the most money.
Filing married filing jointly
You can still use married filing jointly with your deceased spouse for the year of death -- unless you remarry during that year. It's your responsibility to file a final return for your deceased spouse.
If you remarry in the year of your spouse's death, you can't file jointly with your deceased spouse. However, you can use married filing jointly with your new spouse. You and your new spouse can also each use married filing separately. If a return is required for your deceased spouse, use the married filing separately status.
If you're a surviving spouse with no gross income, you can be claimed as an exemption on both of these:
If you file jointly with your new spouse, you can claim an exemption only on that joint return.
If you qualify, you can use this filing status for the two tax years after the death of your spouse. However, you can’t use it for the year of death.
To qualify, you must meet these requirements:
If you file as a qualifying widow(er), you can't claim an exemption for your deceased spouse. However, you can use the married filing jointly tax table or tax rate schedule. The qualifying widow(er) standard deduction is the same as married filing jointly.
Filing as single
Unless you qualify for something else, you'll usually file as single after your spouse dies. You might not qualify as a qualifying widow(er) if your child is a foster child. In that case, you'll be able to use head of household status.
To learn more, see these tax tips: