How to file a final tax return for a deceased person

When someone dies, the executor of the will or the estate administrator needs to file a final tax return. Here's what you need to know if this important job is yours.

How to file a final tax return for a deceased person

This person will also need to provide the revenue agency with the date of death.

Return and due dates

  • For deaths occurring between January 1st and October 31st, you have until the regular tax due date to remit the person’s taxes. That’s April 30th of the following year.
  • If the death occurred between November 1st and December 31st, the final return is due six months after the date of death.

Filing by mail

You’ll need to get forms for the year in which the person died. However, you cannot submit a final tax return online.

  • You’ll need to submit official copies of documents such as the death certificate and will, all of which need to be mailed in with the final tax return.

Informing the revenue agency of a person’s death

You’ll need to inform the revenue agency of the death as soon as possible in order to stop automatic tax payments or the issuing of any GST or HST credits.

  • Don’t fret if you’re not able to do this in time.
  • You’ll still be able to claim back an amount paid on the final tax return.
  • If you've received a GST or HST credit payment for that person, it will need to be returned to the tax centre.

If you need to access the deceased person’s tax records, this is a good time to place that request.

  • You’ll need their social insurance number in addition to the death certificate and will or other legal documents needed to prove that you are the legal representative for this person.

The final return

Income from January 1st to the date of death will be covered in the final return.

  • You’ll need all of the person’s income information.
  • If you can’t get all the necessary slips, you’ll need to get income and investment information from employers and other institutions in order to report as accurately as possible.

Optional returns

You can file up to three optional returns for the year of death.

  • Certain deductions can be claimed on an optional return that could reduce the amount of tax owed on the final return.

Obtaining a clearance certificate

Before distributing the estate to any beneficiaries, it’s a good idea to get a clearance certificate from the revenue agency to ensure that all of the deceased person’s taxes have been paid.

A second clearance certificate will be needed if the person also had a trust.

Enlisting the help of professionals

Preparing the final tax return for a deceased person is a lengthy process that can put a lot of pressure on the executor or administrator, who has other duties such as closing accounts, paying debts and distributing what’s left of the estate.

  • Some people prepare the final tax return themselves by referring to the Canada Revenue Agency guide, but enlisting the help of professionals can definitely lessen part of the burden and help accelerate the process after you’ve obtained all of the necessary papers and documents.
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