Filing a self-assessment return for the deceased – can you do this yourself?

It is a fact of life that when we lose a loved one, the loss and grief is not all we have to deal with, even though that would be enough. Sadly, there is also a lot of administration that needs to be done by those left behind.

This can be anything from registering the death and getting multiple copies of the death certificate to provide to the various organisations that will ask for it, to rehoming pets left behind if necessary. So, dealing with the taxman at such a difficult time may not be appealing. But for some, especially where family members or close friends are also executors for the deceased’s estate, it is unavoidable.

Filing returns for the year someone died or earlier

The taxman’s reach goes beyond the grave as we know from Inheritance Tax being applied on estates after death where a liability applies, but there is also a requirement to ensure tax returns for those who have died are up-to-date including for the year in which they died.

This means relatives face collating all their loved one’s tax information for a period prior to their death, even if that information will be sent to an accountant who will deal with the ultimate filing of the return. This is a sensible option, because filing the return themselves mean there are some quirks to the usual system that need to be understood.

Can you file a return online for someone who is deceased?

HMRC will not accept online filing for anyone who is no longer alive. For security reasons, it insists that any returns relating to the deceased are filed in paper form when being dealt with by a family member or friend.

Authorised tax agents, such as your accountant, can file these returns online, including the return for the year in which they died. The tax year runs from April 6 to April 5 the following year, so the last return would need to relate to the period from April 6 in the relevant tax year to the date of their death.

Returns must be filed before January 31 the year after the end of the relevant tax year, or by the date on the ‘notice to file’ letter if one is received and that gives a different date.

However, if a repayment is due to the person’s estate from HMRC, the payment will not be made automatically. Instead, your accountant may need to call the bereavement helpline to get the ball rolling on this repayment being made.

You may need to deal with tax affairs after the person’s death too, and these are dealt with separately and in a slightly different way. You can find out more information on Gov.uk about what to do and how to tell HMRC about a person’s estate. You should also use the Tell Us Once service that the Government has, which means you tell one organisation within government about the death and all departments will be notified.

Let us help you

If you have lost a loved one recently and need help to deal with their financial affairs, then please get in touch with us and we can help you through the process.