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My Husband Passed Away. Can I File My Taxes as Single Now? – June

“Dear Jim,

my husband passed away

we always filed jointly..can I file as being single this year? will I have to file his income tax…what is the best root to pursue?



Thanks for your question.

First of all, I am sorry for your loss.

Your first question: Can I file jointly with my deceased husband for 2011 (i.e. the year he died)? The answer is yes. If your spouse died during the year and you did not remarry during 2011, you may still file a joint return with that spouse for the year of death.

Your second question: Is it more advantageous to file jointly or separately for 2011 (i.e. the year of your husband’s death)? In most circumstances, it is more advantageous to file jointly as the tax rates are lower for joint filers. If you do decide to file separately for 2011, your deceased husband’s return would be filed also using the “married filing separately” filing status. For 2012 returns, you may file qualifying widow with dependent child if you qualify or head of household or single, depending on your circumstances.

The best bet for the lowest overall tax bill is filing jointly.

I hope this helps.


Jim Buttonow is one of the resident debt experts here at that helps people for free. Jim is a licensed CPA who spent 19 years with the IRS coordinating large compliance teams of IRS agents and specialized personnel. In the last 5 years, Jim has invented consumer and practitioner software and treatises on how to address many different tax issues. He has also represented many people before the IRS examination, collection, filing, and appeals functions. He currently assists taxpayers on an active pro bono tax practice aimed at serving people in need. He can be reached at

If you have a tax question you’d like to ask just use the online form. I’m happy to help you totally for free.

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About the author

Jim Buttonnow

Jim Buttonow, CPA/CITP, practices in the area of IRS and State tax controversy. He has more than 29 years of experience in IRS practice and procedure. Reach Jim at [email protected] or through his website

1 Comment

  • Jim, My husband passed away in october 2012. what do I have to do different to file new york state and income taxes?

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