Lodging a final Deceased Estates Tax Return is one of the important things to do when managing someone’s final affairs. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a deeply emotional and challenging time. Beyond grief and sorrow, there are often a number of administrative tasks to navigate. One of these tasks is managing the deceased person’s tax return. It’s a task that can seem daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the tax system. However, understanding the process can make it less overwhelming. We as Accountants that specialise in this area can help.
In the Australian context, the taxation obligations of a deceased person don’t simply disappear upon their death. These obligations can transfer to their legal representative or the executor of their will.
. It is a crucial step in finalising the deceased’s affairs and ensuring compliance with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Understanding a Deceased Person’s Tax Return in Australia
When a person dies their tax obligations do not automatically cease. Rather, these obligations transition to their deceased estate. This means that any income earned from the day after the person’s death until the end of the financial year must be declared in the deceased person’s tax return.
In general, a deceased person’s tax return is prepared in the same way as a living person’s tax return. This includes all forms of income, deductions, and tax offsets until the date of death. However, there are some specific rules and regulations related to the taxation of deceased estates. These include the treatment of superannuation death benefits, capital gains tax, and the taxation of testamentary trusts.
Legal responsibilities for managing a deceased affairs
The responsibility for managing a deceased estate’s tax falls primarily to the legal representative. This can be the executor of the will, an administrator appointed by the court, or a trustee.
The legal representative is responsible for lodging the deceased person’s tax return from the start of the income year until the date of death. They must also lodge a tax return for the deceased estate for any income earned after the date of death by the estate.
In addition to lodging tax returns, the legal representative must also pay any tax owed. They may use the assets of the deceased estate to do this. It’s important to understand that as a legal representative, its your role to ensure that all tax obligations are met.
Who is responsible for filing a final tax return for someone who has died?
The executor of the will, the court-appointed administrator, or the trustee is responsible for filing the final tax return for someone who has died. This individual is often referred to as the legal personal representative (LPR), . Their role is to manage the deceased’s tax affairs.
The LPR’s tasks include notifying the ATO about the person’s death. It also involves gathering all necessary financial information, preparing, and lodging the deceased person’s tax return, and paying any outstanding tax from the estate’s assets.
We recommend working slowly through the issues. Don’t be pressured by beneficiaries keen to get their hands on the money.
Steps in filing a deceased person’s tax return
Filing a deceased person’s tax return involves several steps.
First, the legal representative should notify the ATO about the death.
This can be done by sending a copy of the death certificate, along with a written notice, to the ATO. Though often the ATO gets notified by other sources such as birth death and marriages.
Next, the representative should gather all necessary financial information. This will likely include bank statements, investment reports, and details of any superannuation funds. The data will be used to prepare the deceased person’s tax return.
The third step involves completing the tax return. Therefore after the tax return has been lodged, the representative must then pay any outstanding tax before making final distributions
Remember, these steps can take time and require attention to detail. It’s crucial to stay organised and keep accurate records throughout the process.
Common issues in managing a deceased estate’s tax return
Managing a deceased person’s tax return is not always straightforward. Various issues can arise, complicating the process.
One common issue is incomplete or missing financial records. This can make it difficult to accurately complete the tax return. In such cases, the legal representative may need to contact banks, investment companies, and other institutions to obtain the necessary information. Always plan by actively undertaking Estate planning so that when you die some of the complexity is ironed out.
Another common issue is the complexity of the deceased’s financial affairs. If the deceased had multiple income sources, substantial investments, or owned a business, the tax return could become quite complicated. In these situations, it might be necessary to engage professional help.
Being an executor can be a big responsibility. However, with a basic understanding, organisation, and patience, it can be managed effectively. Take time to work through the processes and reach out if you need guidance along the way.