Filing for a Deceased Taxpayer

Filing the final income tax return for a deceased taxpayer

Facing a loved one's passing is complex, and the Arizona Department of Revenue wants to make it easier to file on behalf of a deceased taxpayer.

The person in charge of the deceased estate is responsible for filing the tax return. A surviving spouse may file a joint individual income tax return if the deceased spouse passed away during the tax year and the surviving spouse did not remarry during the tax year.

If a taxpayer died before filing a return for the taxable year, the taxpayer's spouse or personal representative might have to file and sign a return for that taxpayer. A personal representative can be an executor, administrator, or anyone in charge of the deceased taxpayer's property.

The person who files the return should use the individual income tax form the deceased taxpayer would have used if they were alive. The person who files the return should print the word "deceased" after the decedent's name and enter the date of death after the decedent's name.

Most software vendors are approved to file Form 131 with the return electronically but verify before filing. If filing by paper, sign and date Form 131 in Part 3, and place the completed Form 131 on top of the income tax return that would have been filed if the decedent was alive. If filing a small business income return, include Form 131-SBI.


If your spouse died in the taxable year and you did not remarry in the taxable year or if your spouse died in the current year before filing a return for the taxable year, you may file a joint return. If your spouse died in the taxable year, the joint return should show your spouse's taxable year income before death and your income for all of the taxable year. If your spouse died in the current year, before filing the taxable year return, the joint return should show all of your and your spouse's income for the taxable year. Print "Filing as surviving spouse" after the surviving spouse's signature. If someone else is the personal representative, they must also sign the return.

Filing a Tax Due Return

The filing requirements apply to a deceased taxpayer. The return is due by the filing deadline for the tax year in which the taxpayer died. You may file an extension by April 15 (or the date indicated for the taxable year) if you need more time to gather documents and file on behalf of the deceased taxpayer.

Claiming a Refund

If the deceased taxpayer did not meet the filing requirements but had tax withheld, a return must be filed to get a refund.

If the deceased individual’s estate is due a refund, the claimant will file a Form 131 or Form 131-SBI if filing a Small Business Income Tax return. As the claimant, you must enter your daytime phone number and your social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

If the refund is issued in the decedent's name, it may be cashed with the endorsement of the court-appointed executor or the estate administrator.

A surviving spouse may file a joint individual income tax return with Form 131 and check box 9a. If you filed your return without Form 131 and received a joint refund check that you cannot cash, you can mail the check with Form 131 to ADOR (see instructions for address), and we will issue a new check in your name.

Only check box 9b if you are the decedent's court-appointed personal representative claiming a refund for the decedent. You must include a copy of the court certificate showing your appointment. A copy of the decedent's will is not sufficient to show that you are the personal representative.

For 9a and 9b, do not include the proof of death with Form 131. Instead, keep it for your records and provide it if requested.

Check box line 9c if you are neither the surviving spouse nor have a court-appointed personal representative. You must also complete Part 2 and have proof of death. The proof of death is a copy of one of the following:

  • the death certificate; or
  • the formal notification from the appropriate government office informing the next of kin of the decedent's death.


See the individual income tax return instructions and the Claim for Refund on Behalf of Arizona Form Deceased Taxpayer instructions for more details.