Ask the Expert: My husband has died, do I need to complete a tax return on his behalf?

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green - Credit: Archant

Our reader this week has lost her husband, who was not able to complete his latest tax return before he died. His wife wants to know whether she needs to do so on his behalf. Carl Lamb of Almary Green provides the answers.


My husband died last November at the age of 62 after a short illness.

He had a well-paid job and had a number of other income sources so was a higher rate taxpayer.

He hadn't done his tax return before he fell ill – he always did it himself as he was an accountant.

He's made me his executor so do I need to complete a tax return on his behalf by the end of January?

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Almary Green response:

I am sorry to hear of your bereavement.

Yes, it is likely that you will need to submit a tax return for your late husband.

Your first step, however, should be to contact HMRC: they have a dedicated helpline for those who find themselves in your position and want to know how to proceed. The number is 0300 200 3300.

You will need to give them the date of your husband's death, plus a unique identifier for your husband which can be his National Insurance Number, his Unique Taxpayer Reference (usually found on his payslips or any letters from HMRC), his full address or the name and address of his last employer.

They will then advise what you need to submit and any deadlines that apply.

There may also be a requirement to submit a separate tax return for the estate during its 'administration period' – ie the period between his death and when his estate is finally distributed – if it meets one of a number of conditions.

These include whether the estate was worth more than £2.5 million when your husband died, if the total Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax due for the administration period was more than £10,000 and if more than £500,000 a year came from the sale of the estate's assets by administrators or executors.

There are other conditions for deaths before 6 April 2016 which won't apply to your husband's estate.

It may well be worth you engaging an accountant or tax adviser to complete the self-assessment tax returns on your behalf particularly if your husband's financial affairs were complex and meet one of the conditions for a tax return for the estate.