At the worst time of your life, the last thing you want to think about is tax.

When a loved one dies, however, their affairs must be dealt with at some stage. This includes their tax obligations. Death and Taxes need to be dealt with regardless if their is a will in place or not.

To deal with a deceased tax return, the help of a solicitor is highly recommended. Someone will be granted the role of executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased person (this is usually stipulated in a will). This is if the deceased has accumulated wealth

From a tax perspective, there are a few things that the executor or administrator has to do.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) must be contacted and informed that your loved one has passed away. When you notify them of the death, they can tell you if the person had any outstanding tax returns for prior income years. If you have a tax agent, they will be able to tell you all the outstanding tax returns.

All their financial documents must be compiled, and you must lodge a date of death (or final) tax return. This will only need to be lodged if your loved one had tax withheld from their income or had earned more than the tax-free threshold.  Even if they don't have tax withheld, we highly suggest to lodge a final tax return with the date of death stipulated on the front page.

This final tax return differs from a normal tax return as it doesn’t cover the full financial year - it only covers up to the day that the person died. All income and tax deductions until that day are inputted into the final tax return.

There are still tax obligations that can occur after that day, such as income earned from investments or the sale of assets that may or may not be subject to capital gains tax.

In these circumstances, the executor or administrator of the estate will need to apply for a separate and new tax file number for the estate. The estate is treated as a separate taxpayer and will pay tax as if it was an adult individual resident taxpayer.  Apply here for a TFN application for a deceased estate click here, DEATH AND TAXES.

This special treatment of the estate is received for up to three tax returns after the date of death (in fact, it is for two years from the date of death).

We know that this time is very stressful, even without these additional obligations. The support of a tax professional during this process can ease the burden, as this is a role we are accustomed to taking. Contact us to find out how we can aid you, even if we weren’t the accountant for your loved one. We’re here to help.